Denouement

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Like many things in life, the VC/startup ecosystem is one of cycles. Looking back over the last decade it’s remarkable to see how the emphasis has shifted across cycles and what the overarching narrative was.

I believe we are in a denouement (the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved) that will both signal a high water mark for many startups but also create an opportunity for patient, early investors who can think and act independently (more on this below). But let’s look back at the last decade in VC-backed startups… it’s easy to forget how predominant mindsets change throughout the cycle.

2009-2011: Retrenchment

The world is experiencing a global economic crisis of a proportion most living people have never witnessed. We’re only a few months past

Continue reading “Denouement”

Friday Funism – “Favorite Future”

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This post also appears at NextView’s blog.

Another phrase we use internally at NextView pretty often is that of a “favorite future”.

Early in NextView’s history, when we were raising our first fund (e.g. sometime back in 2010 or early 2011) one of the limited partners we met with asked us what our “favorite future” was for NextView. We were excited to talk about our vision and aspirations for the new VC firm we were building, but also intrigued by this as a general question.

When meeting with founders we now often ask them what their favorite future is for their startup. This is one of those questions which is phrased as a “What” but really is a lot more about “Why” and “How” ultimately. We ask it in the hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of the founders’ long run vision for the business Continue reading “Friday Funism – “Favorite Future””

Chewy S-1: Category Leadership + Conveyor Belt Into Consumers’ Homes

Reading Time: 7 minutes

This post also appears on NextView’s blog.

Chewy has rapidly grown from a startup to a multi-billion commerce company, establishing itself as the leader in pet e-commerce. Chewy sells tens of thousands of products from many 3rd party brands, as well as its own private label brands (though latter remains <10% of sales). The company launched in 2011 and then was acquired by PetSmart for over $3 billion in 2017 (PetSmart itself owned by PE firm BC Partners), but Chewy is now preparing for life as a standalone public company.

I’ll break down Chewy’s business based on their recent S-1 filing here. I know some of the investors in Chewy prior to the PetSmart acquisition, but I am not a shareholder nor do I intend to purchase shares in the IPO. But the company is of particular interest to me given NextView is an investor in

Continue reading “Chewy S-1: Category Leadership + Conveyor Belt Into Consumers’ Homes”

Slack S-1: Will APRU Drive Long Term Value?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

This post also appears on NextView’s blog.

Slack dropped their S-1 a couple weeks ago. Even before that, we all knew that it was among the most rapidly growing SaaS companies in recent years and a product used (and loved) by millions of people.

But now we have a chance to really dig in and understand Slack’s business a bit better. I have friends who are execs or shareholders of the company, but I have no stake in Slack nor intent to invest in the IPO. One of the key questions for me was how might Slack stack up against other great SaaS companies when it comes to average revenue per user (ARPU), and how ARPU and total addressable market (TAM) might drive Slack’s long run market cap.

If you haven’t seen these already, here are some of the headline figures about Slack’s business:

Why Do Consumer IPOs and B2B IPOs Get Treated Differently?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This post also appears on NextView’s blog.

2019 is off to an exciting start for IPOs of VC-backed startups. In just the last month or so we’ve seen Lyft go public (my analysis of the company’s S-1 here) and more recently, Zoom and Pinterest.

Zoom is a B2B company Pinterest and Lyft are obviously B2C companies. All three have different business models… SaaS, media/ad, and consumer transactional. All three are impressive and valuable businesses in their own right.

In some respects though Zoom has had the most “successful” IPO of the three companies, which has surprised some folks. All three companies had significant investor interest during their road shows and increased their IPO price ranges, but I believe Zoom’s increased the most by the offering. Zoom had the largest first day “pop” when it started trading (+72% vs +28% for Pinterest and +9% for Continue reading “Why Do Consumer IPOs and B2B IPOs Get Treated Differently?”

Lyft S-1: Kicking Off the Decacorn Bonanza of 2019

Reading Time: 7 minutes

This post also appears on NextView’s blog.

I’ve been looking thru S-1s for many years, out of intellectual curiosity to better understand how remarkable businesses work. This includes blockbusters like Alibaba (in three parts) and Facebook but also the likes of Square, Dropbox, Twitter, Blue Apron and going many years back Kayak and Groupon.

There are a variety of quick write-ups on the Lyft S-1 for basic figures like annual revenue, rider growth, or who the largest shareholders are. Here’s one from Pitchbook and one from TechCrunch. I’m going to try to dive a little deeper to assess how good of a business Lyft is and uncover interesting nuggets about the company disclosed in the S-1. If you are interested in a deeper understand like this read on. If you just want my TLDR perspective on Lyft as a business jump

Continue reading “Lyft S-1: Kicking Off the Decacorn Bonanza of 2019”

Tim Devane’s Next Chapter

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a bit over two years since Tim Devane joined us as a Principal at NextView.  Tim joined our investment team as the first non-founder, and also as the first NextView team member based in our New York office.  It’s not easy to pave a path with no one before you, but Tim has done just that and done it admirably.

Thanks in large part to Tim, the NextView family today includes exceptional founders of companies like Dia & Co, Timber, The Outline, and Parsec.  He’s been a champion and supporter of NextView’s portfolio broadly, a thoughtful voice in our investment team discussions, and a driving force in the continued growth of our presence in New York.  We’ve enjoyed watching Tim come into his own as a VC investor at NextView.

So it’s bittersweet for us to share the news that Continue reading “Tim Devane’s Next Chapter”

Tim Devane’s Next Chapter

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a bit over two years since Tim Devane joined us as a Principal at NextView.  Tim joined our investment team as the first non-founder, and also as the first NextView team member based in our New York office.  It’s not easy to pave a path with no one before you, but Tim has done just that and done it admirably.

Thanks in large part to Tim, the NextView family today includes exceptional founders of companies like Dia & Co, Timber, The Outline, and Parsec.  He’s been a champion and supporter of NextView’s portfolio broadly, a thoughtful voice in our investment team discussions, and a driving force in the continued growth of our presence in New York.  We’ve enjoyed watching Tim come into his own as a VC investor at NextView.

So it’s bittersweet for us to share the news that Continue reading “Tim Devane’s Next Chapter”

Tim Devane’s Next Chapter

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a bit over two years since Tim Devane joined us as a Principal at NextView.  Tim joined our investment team as the first non-founder, and also as the first NextView team member based in our New York office.  It’s not easy to pave a path with no one before you, but Tim has done just that and done it admirably.

Thanks in large part to Tim, the NextView family today includes exceptional founders of companies like Dia & Co, Timber, The Outline, and Parsec.  He’s been a champion and supporter of NextView’s portfolio broadly, a thoughtful voice in our investment team discussions, and a driving force in the continued growth of our presence in New York.  We’ve enjoyed watching Tim come into his own as a VC investor at NextView.

So it’s bittersweet for us to share the news that Continue reading “Tim Devane’s Next Chapter”

Tim Devane’s Next Chapter

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been a bit over two years since Tim Devane joined us as a Principal at NextView.  Tim joined our investment team as the first non-founder, and also as the first NextView team member based in our New York office.  It’s not easy to pave a path with no one before you, but Tim has done just that and done it admirably.

Thanks in large part to Tim, the NextView family today includes exceptional founders of companies like Dia & Co, Timber, The Outline, and Parsec.  He’s been a champion and supporter of NextView’s portfolio broadly, a thoughtful voice in our investment team discussions, and a driving force in the continued growth of our presence in New York.  We’ve enjoyed watching Tim come into his own as a VC investor at NextView.

So it’s bittersweet for us to share the news that Continue reading “Tim Devane’s Next Chapter”

The Road to Autonomous Vehicles & Our Investment in Optimus Ride

Today Optimus Ride announced a $5.25M seed round of funding to continue developing their unique approach to autonomous transportation.  NextView is pleased to co-lead this round along with our friends at FirstMark Capital as well as participation by other investors, and I’m excited to join Optimus’s board.

For those who follow my writings on my AgileVC blog or on Medium, you’ll know that I’ve been thinking about the autonomous vehicle space for some time.  I say “autonomous vehicles” rather than “driverless cars”… when my little daughter has a family of her own someday, the phrase “driverless car” will be an anachronism akin to “horseless carriage”.

Optimus isn’t yet describing their plans in detail publicly, so I won’t be letting their cat out of the bag.  But I’m thrilled to be able to partner with an extraordinarily experienced and talented group of co-founders.  The Optimus team has its roots at MIT Continue reading “The Road to Autonomous Vehicles & Our Investment in Optimus Ride”

The Road to Autonomous Vehicles & Our Investment in Optimus Ride

optimus

Today Optimus Ride announced a $5.25M seed round of funding to continue developing their unique approach to autonomous transportation.  NextView is pleased to co-lead this round along with our friends at FirstMark Capital as well as participation by other investors, and I’m excited to join Optimus’s board.

For those who follow my writings on my AgileVC blog or on Medium, you’ll know that I’ve been thinking about the autonomous vehicle space for some time.  I say “autonomous vehicles” rather than “driverless cars”… when my little daughter has a family of her own someday, the phrase “driverless car” will be an anachronism akin to “horseless carriage”.

Optimus isn’t yet describing their plans in detail publicly, so I won’t be letting their cat out of the bag.  But I’m thrilled to be able to partner with an extraordinarily experienced and talented group of co-founders.  The Optimus team has its roots at MIT Continue reading “The Road to Autonomous Vehicles & Our Investment in Optimus Ride”

Autonomous Vehicles: Can You Get There From Here? (Part 2)

 

jetsons_car

This is the 2nd post in a series about self-driving vehicles and it explores how autonomous cars could become a reality.  Self-Driving Vehicles: The Future Always Takes Longer to Arrive is the 1st post and covers the state of the vehicle autonomy (circa mid 2016) and how we’ve gotten here.  

=============

So what are the different paths towards commercially available self-driving cars?  The way forward includes not only advanced vehicles themselves but also potentially shifts in road infrastructure, laws and regulations, and even business models for “mobility.”

In my first post earlier this summer, I highlighted the fact that we’re still a ways off from truly autonomous vehicles, despite many decades of technological advances to assist drivers.  The “Auto-Pilot” capability in Tesla’s Model S is currently the most advanced semi-autonomous (NHTSA Level 2) system you can actually buy, but it still has many limitations and Continue reading “Autonomous Vehicles: Can You Get There From Here? (Part 2)”

Our Investment in The Outline

Sam-Elliott1

“Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude…”  – The Stranger, The Big Lebowski

Today we announced our investment in The Outline, a new digital media company founded by CEO Josh Topolsky.  The company plans to launch publicly later this year, but Josh talks about his vision for The Outline in this WSJ article.

We like to back authentic founders here at NextView… entrepreneurs who have experience and unique perspective on the market they’re trying to transform.  My colleague Tim Devane was the first one on our team to build a relationship with Josh, and Josh certainly fits this mold.  The internet is about 20 years old but most digital media companies simply replicate the model of legacy print media businesses only without the printing press.  Josh penned a widely read manifesto earlier this year that laid Continue reading “Our Investment in The Outline”

Our Investment in The Outline

“Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude…”  – The Stranger, The Big Lebowski

Today we announced our investment in The Outline, a new digital media company founded by CEO Josh Topolsky.  The company plans to launch publicly later this year, but Josh talks about his vision for The Outline in this WSJ article.

We like to back authentic founders here at NextView… entrepreneurs who have experience and unique perspective on the market they’re trying to transform.  My colleague Tim Devane was the first one on our team to build a relationship with Josh, and Josh certainly fits this mold.  The internet is about 20 years old but most digital media companies simply replicate the model of legacy print media businesses only without the printing press.  Josh penned a widely read manifesto earlier this year that laid Continue reading “Our Investment in The Outline”

Our Investment in The Outline

“Sometimes, there’s a man, well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s the Dude…”  – The Stranger, The Big Lebowski

Today we announced our investment in The Outline, a new digital media company founded by CEO Josh Topolsky.  The company plans to launch publicly later this year, but Josh talks about his vision for The Outline in this WSJ article.

We like to back authentic founders here at NextView… entrepreneurs who have experience and unique perspective on the market they’re trying to transform.  My colleague Tim Devane was the first one on our team to build a relationship with Josh, and Josh certainly fits this mold.  The internet is about 20 years old but most digital media companies simply replicate the model of legacy print media businesses only without the printing press.  Josh penned a widely read manifesto earlier this year that laid Continue reading “Our Investment in The Outline”

Self-Driving Vehicles: The Future Always Takes Longer to Arrive (Part 1)

Preface: As a consumer, I am excited by the prospect of autonomous vehicles and the individual and collective benefits they can provide.  As an investor, I am also bullish about the innovation wave already in its early innings around mobility and autonomy.  But a realistic understanding of the potential timeline for autonomous vehicle adoption is vital to decision making as a startup entrepreneur or investor in this area.  

===========

Rome wasn’t built in a day.  In fact it wasn’t even built in a year or a decade, but rather a couple centuries.  Autonomous vehicles will become widespread a lot faster than that, but it always takes longer than you think for the future to arrive.  Fully autonomous vehicles (aka “Level 4” autonomy in NHTSA guidelines, where a car can navigate itself from A to B without any human involvement) won’t be generally available for “awhile”.  IMO “awhile” is a minimum of 5 years from today,

Continue reading “Self-Driving Vehicles: The Future Always Takes Longer to Arrive (Part 1)”

Self-Driving Vehicles: The Future Always Takes Longer to Arrive (Part 1)

Preface: As a consumer, I am excited by the prospect of autonomous vehicles and the individual and collective benefits they can provide.  As an investor, I am also bullish about the innovation wave already in its early innings around mobility and autonomy.  But a realistic understanding of the potential timeline for autonomous vehicle adoption is vital to decision making as a startup entrepreneur or investor in this area.  

===========

Rome wasn’t built in a day.  In fact it wasn’t even built in a year or a decade, but rather a couple centuries.  Autonomous vehicles will become widespread a lot faster than that, but it always takes longer than you think for the future to arrive.  Fully autonomous vehicles (aka “Level 4” autonomy in NHTSA guidelines, where a car can navigate itself from A to B without any human involvement) won’t be generally available for “awhile”.  IMO “awhile” is a minimum of 5 years from today,

Continue reading “Self-Driving Vehicles: The Future Always Takes Longer to Arrive (Part 1)”

What If Self-Driving Cars Actually Increase Car Ownership?

car-sunset

Conventional wisdom is that when self-driving autonomous passenger cars arrive, they’re likely to decrease individual ownership of cars. If there’s a liquid supply of cars that can operate autonomously, one needn’t own a car… you could simply summon one on-demand from a fleet run by [Uber, Google, Apple, Ford, etc] and pay per use or subscription or whatever economic model emerges.  Nobody wants a car, they want “mobility” says this line of thinking.

Let’s envision a future where cars are truly 100% self-driving and can operate autonomously (what’s known as Level 4 in NHTSA’s proposed framework).  Let’s assume that they are propelled by electricity or hydrogen or super-efficient gasoline hybrids or some other modality which eliminates or drastically mitigates the externalities associated with fossil fuel combustion.  Let’s further assume that there are legal and financial frameworks that support this technological reality, e.g. insurance and liability law permits companies to manufacture and Continue reading “What If Self-Driving Cars Actually Increase Car Ownership?”

Seduced By Growth, But Terminal Scale Still Matters

We’re off to a fresh start here at the beginning of 2016. Looking back at 2015, the standout theme in the VC/startup ecosystem was unicorn hunting. We started the year enraptured by the “Age of Unicorns” with this cover of Fortune in January 2015:

Illustration: Jeremy Enecio

But by the time we ended 2015, the headlines like “The Dangers Ahead if Tech Unicorns Get Gored (WSJ)” and “Regulators Look Into Mutual Funds Procedures for Valuing Startups (WSJ)“.  “Unicorn” went from being a brass ring to reach for to a term used with sarcasm or derision.  People started thinking of startup unicorns like this:

Illustration: Chris Silas Neal

Illustration for WSJ: Chris Silas Neal

What happened? Was this simply a shift in sentiment among the tech & business media? A realignment of valuations by late stage investors? The beginning of a tech downturn? We can’t paint all “unicorns” with the same Continue reading “Seduced By Growth, But Terminal Scale Still Matters”