Affirm, Airbnb, C3.ai, Roblox, Wish file for tech IPO finale of 2020

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The wait was long but this week the time was right: Airbnb finally filed its S-1 and so did Affirm, C3.ai, Roblox, and Wish. We are likely to see these five price on public markets before the end of an already superlative year for tech IPOs. The ongoing pandemic and political turmoil were not scary enough, apparently.

This coming decade, you have to think that we’ll see a more even spread of tech companies going public. Many of the companies above have been bottled up for years behind privately funded growth strategies. Today, however, the industry has a better grasp of SPACs and direct listings, and various funding routes. Companies have more options from their founding for how they might grow and exit one day. Public investors in 2020 also seem to have a deeper appreciation for the current revenue numbers and future growth opportunities for tech companies. Why, I can still remember all the geniuses who bragged about shorting the Facebook IPO not so long ago.

Will we see a more even spread of where IPOs come from? While all of this week’s filers are headquartered in San Francisco or environs, that now feels almost like a coincidental reference to the years when these companies were founded. More states have been minting their own unicorns, with Ohio-based Root Insurance recently going public and Utah-based Qualtrics heading (back) that way. Tech startups are now global, meanwhile, and plenty of countries are working to keep their unicorns closer to home than New York.

On to the headlines from TechCrunch and Extra Crunch:

If you didn’t make $ 1B this week, you are not doing VC right (EC)

Affirm files to go public

Inside Affirm’s IPO filing: A look at its economics, profits and revenue concentration (EC)

Airbnb files to go public

5 questions from Airbnb’s IPO filing (EC)

The VC and founder winners in Airbnb’s IPO (EC)

Roblox files to go public

What is Roblox worth? (EC)

Wish files to go public with 100M monthly actives, $ 1.75B in 2020 revenue thus far

Unpacking the C3.ai IPO filing (EC)

With a 2021 IPO in the cards, what do we know about Robinhood’s Q3 performance? (EC)

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

What does a Biden administration mean for tech?

What does Joe Biden intend as president around technology policy? On the one hand, tech companies might not be returning to the White House too fast. “All told, we’re seeing some familiar names in the mix, but 2020 isn’t 2008,” Taylor Hatmaker explains about potential presidential appointments from the industry. “Tech companies that emerged as golden children over the last 10 years are radioactive now. Regulation looms on the horizon in every direction. Whatever policy priorities emerge out of the Biden administration, Obama’s technocratic gilded age is over and we’re in for something new.”

However, tech industries and companies focused on shared goals might find support. In a review of Biden’s climate-change policies, Jon Shieber looks at major green infrastructure plans that could be on the way.

Any policies that a Biden administration enacts would have to focus on economic opportunity broadly, and much of the proposed plan from the campaign fulfills that need. One of its key propositions was that it would be “creating good, union, middle-class jobs in communities left behind, righting wrongs in communities that bear the brunt of pollution, and lifting up the best ideas from across our great nation — rural, urban and tribal,” according to the transition website. An early emphasis on grid and utility infrastructure could create significant opportunities for job creation across America — and be a boost for technology companies. “Our electric power infrastructure is old, aging and not secure,” said Abe Yokell, co-founder of the energy and climate-focused venture capital firm Congruent Ventures. “From an infrastructure standpoint, transmission distribution really should be upgraded and has been underinvested over the years. And it is in direct alignment with providing renewable energy deployment across the U.S. and the electrification of everything.”

Rebar is laid before poring a cement slab for an apartment in San Francisco CA.

Image Credits: Steve Proehl (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The future of construction tech

A skilled labor shortage is piling on top of the construction industry’s traditional challenges this year. The result is that tech adoption is getting a big push into the real world, Allison Xu of Bain Capital Ventures writes in a guest column for Extra Crunch this week. She maps out six main construction categories where tech startups are emerging, including project conception, design and engineering, pre-construction, construction execution, post construction and construction management. Here’s an excerpt from the article about that last item:

  • How it works today: Construction management and operations teams manage the end-to-end project, with functions such as document management, data and insights, accounting, financing, HR/payroll, etc.
  • Key challenges: The complexity of the job site translates to highly complex and burdensome paperwork associated with each project. Managing the process requires communication and alignment across many stakeholders.
  • How technology can address challenges: The nuances of the multistakeholder construction process merit value in a verticalized approach to managing the project. Construction management tools like ProcoreHyphen Solutions and IngeniousIO have created ways for contractors to coordinate and track the end-to-end process more seamlessly. Other players like Levelset have taken a construction-specific approach to functions like invoice management and payments.

Virtual HQs after the pandemic?

Pandemic-era work solutions like online team meeting spaces are heading towards a less certain, vaccine-based reality. Have we all gone remote-first enough that they will have a real market, still? Natasha Mascarenhas checks in with some of the top companies to see how it’s looking, here’s more:

With the goal of making remote work more spontaneous, there are dozens of new startups working to create virtual HQs for distributed teams. The three that have risen to the top include Branch, built by Gen Z gamers; Gather, created by engineers building a gamified Zoom; and Huddle, which is still in stealth.

The platforms are all racing to prove that the world is ready to be a part of virtual workspaces. By drawing on multiplayer gaming culture, the startups are using spatial technology, animations and productivity tools to create a metaverse dedicated to work.

The biggest challenge ahead? The startups need to convince venture capitalists and users alike that they’re more than Sims for Enterprise or an always-on Zoom call. The potential success could signal how the future of work will blend gaming and socialization for distributed teams.

Around TechCrunch

Head of the US Space Force, Gen. John W. ‘Jay’ Raymond, joins us at TechCrunch Sessions: Space

Amazon’s Project Kuiper chief David Limp is coming to TC Sessions: Space

Across the week

TechCrunch

Against all odds: The sheer force of immigrant startup founders

S16 Angel Fund launches a community of founders to invest in other founders

Pre-seed fintech firm Financial Venture Studio closes on debut fund to build on legacy of top investments

How esports can save colleges

Why are telehealth companies treating healthcare like the gig economy?

A court decision in favor of startup UpCodes may help shape open access to the law

Extra Crunch

Will Zoom Apps be the next hot startup platform?

Is the internet advertising economy about to implode?

Surging homegrown talent and VC spark Italy’s tech renaissance

Why some VCs prefer to work with first-time founders

3 growth tactics that helped us surpass Noom and Weight Watchers

A report card for the SEC’s new equity crowdfunding rules

#EquityPod

From Alex Wilhelm:

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

This week wound up being incredibly busy. What else, with a week that included both the Airbnb and Affirm IPO filings, a host of mega-rounds for new unicorns, some fascinating smaller funding events and some new funds?

So we had a lot to get through, but with Chris and Danny and Natasha and your humble servant, we dove in headfirst:

What a week! Three episodes, some new records, and a very tired us after all the action. More on Monday!

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.

Startups – TechCrunch

Unpacking the C3.ai IPO filing

The last thing I recall thinking about C3.ai (C3) was seeing its billboards outside San Francisco and asking myself what the hell the company actually did and how much it was spending on a huge outdoor advertisements.

So much for what I know. The company filed to go public on Friday, and instead of being a cash-burning, buzzwordy mess, C3 is actually in pretty good financial shape, generating both growing recurring software revenues and cash in some quarters.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


C3’s growth is not as regular as some investors might like, but the company has an attractive gross margin profile and even the occasional bit of net income to point to. Its financial picture is therefore generally likable, with a few caveats that we’ll explore.

But what does C3 do, who backed it, and what can we learn from drilling into its numbers? I am glad you asked, because those were precisely the questions that I had going into its filing.

Pull up the document here, and let’s get into the numbers.

Inside the guts of a modern AI company

First, what is C3? The former startup calls itself an enterprise artificial intelligence (AI) company, selling software services that help big companies build AI apps “of extraordinary scale and complexity that offer significant social and economic benefit,” according to its S-1.

The company sells its software in two forms: as a developer environment that lets customers design, build and deploy their AI apps on their cloud of choice, and as a group of pre-built apps users can spin up quickly. If C3 were a startup, I’d ask at this point how efficacious its AI tooling really is, but as this unicorn is worth $ 3.3 billion and has nine-figure revenue, it must have come up with something that works.

A host of venture capital firms have invested in C3, with the company raising more than $ 360 million during its lifetime, according to PitchBook data. BlackRock led its Series H, FS Investors led its Series G, its $ 100 million Series F was led by TPG, Breyer Capital led its Series E, TPG Growth led its Series D, while its Series C and before are a little harder to parse, but it appears that Makena Capital Management and Interwest Partners were active at that stage.

Looking to ownership, founder and entrepreneur Thomas Siebel owns just under 34%, TPG owns 22.6%, and Baker Hughes owns around 15%. The company’s voting power rests in its Class B stock, which Siebel effectively controls.

Right now, is the business itself any damn good?

The numbers

C3 has an annoying fiscal year, a twelve-month period that ends on April 30th. So, when we discuss its most recent two fiscal years, we’re chatting about the four-quarter periods that ended onm April 30, 2019 and April 30, 2020. Afterwards, we’ll drill into the July 31 quarter, the most recent period for which we have data.

Startups – TechCrunch

Equity Monday: C3.AI files to go public and Vision Fund 2 leads $100M round

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode that we wound up titling Th O’s r ptinal, th dllrs r mndtry, a joke that if we observe the weekend’s podcast analytics, was a mistake.

Lesson learned!

But in better news there was lots to get to this morning, so here’s a digest of what we talked about:

Do not sleep on the fact that our own Chris Gates is posting Equity videos from every main episode over on YouTube. He does a great job and it’s fun to be on video, as well as audio platforms.

We hope you are rested and ready to go for the rest of the week. Chat as soon as Airbnb files.

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.

Startups – TechCrunch