Africa e-tailer Jumia’s shares fall 4% day after IPO lockup expiration

Shares of Africa focused e-commerce company Jumia dropped 4% the day after the lockup period expired for its April IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.

The lockup provision prevents major shareholders — namely those who purchased equity pre-public listing — from selling their shares for a specified number of days following the IPO.

Jumia’s stock price began Thursday at $7.54, fell to an all-time low of $6.98 by 2pm, and then closed 35 cents down from opening, at $7.19. Jumia’s trading volume on Thursday moved up 19 percent over the daily average since the company went public.

Jumia Share Price October 10Sites that track SEC Form 4 trades, or sales by insiders, aren’t showing anything (at the moment) for Jumia.

What does this all mean? It appears there wasn’t an immediate big stock sell by Jumia’s early and large shareholders post lockup expiry. There was some speculation these investors could drop the company after several rough and tumble months for Jumia post IPO.

Founded in Lagos in 2012, Jumia currently operates multiple online verticals in 14 African countries — from B2C consumer retail to travel bookings.

For Jumia, going public has been an up and down affair. After becoming the first tech startup operating in Africa to list on a major exchange, the company saw its share price rise 70% after listing on the NYSE in April at $14.50.

Then in May, Jumia’s stock tumbled when it came under assault from a short-seller, Andrew Left, who accused the company of fraud in its SEC filings.

Jumia’s latest earnings reporting — delivered in August — had some downside beyond losses. The  company did post second-quarter revenue growth of 58% (≈$43 million) and increased its customer base to 4.8 million from 3.2 million over the same period a year ago.

But Jumia also posted greater losses for the period, 67.8 million euros, compared to 42.3 million euros in 2018.

On top of that, Jumia opened up about a sales related fraud (that it has reported in its original SEC IPO filing) committed by some of its employees and members of its JForce program “to benefit from differences between commissions charged to sellers and higher commissions paid to JForce agents,” according to a Jumia statement.

“The transactions in question generated approximately 1% of our GMV in each of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019 and had virtually no impact on our 2018 or 2019 financial statements,” the statement continued.

Collectively, this has added up to influence Jumia’s share-price falling some 50% from its opening price of $14.50 and 80% from its high of $46.99 on May 1.

As a public company now, the most direct way for Jumia to revive its share-price would be reducing its losses while maintaining or boosting revenues. Of course, that’s the common prescription for many a tech company.

Jumia believes expanding and generating more revenue through its JumiaPay product (with better margins than B2C e-commerce transactions) could help close the revenue vs. loss gap.

Investors and the market at large will be able to track Jumia’s progress during its next (Q3) earnings call, scheduled for November 12, Jumia confirmed to TechCrunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WeWork withdraws its S-1 filing, will delay its IPO

WeWork’s parent organization The We Company just announced that it’s withdrawing the S-1 filing for its IPO.

The co-working company has had a turbulent month since the filing went public, around both the general state of its finances and the behavior of co-founder/CEO Adam Neumann.

As a result, Neumann stepped down down as CEO last week (he will continue to serve as non-executive chairman). In addition, the company is looking to focus on its core co-working business, which means it’s planning major layoffs and even reportedly looking to sell some of the companies it acquired over the last couple of years — namely Managed by Q, Conductor and Meetup.

So it was widely expected that The We Company would delay its IPO. Today, it made things official with the release of a statement from new co-CEOs Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham:

We have decided to postpone our IPO to focus on our core business, the fundamentals of which remain strong. We are as committed as ever to serving our members, enterprise customers, landlord partners, employees and shareholders. We have every intention to operate WeWork as a public company and look forward to revisiting the public equity markets in the future.

Peloton prices IPO at $29 per share

Exercise bike and treadmill company Peloton priced its initial public offering this evening at $29 per share. As part of the IPO, Peloton is offering 40 million Class A common stock to the public.

Peloton was expected to price its IPO between $26 to $29 per share, so this falls on the higher end. With Peloton selling 40 million Class A shares, it is looking to raise $1.16 billion with a valuation of more than $8 billion.

Peloton filed to go public back in August, reporting $915 million in total revenue for the year ending June 30, 2019. That was an increase of 110% from the fiscal year prior. Prior to this upcoming IPO, Peloton had raised $994 million at a private market valuation of $4.15 billion.

Shares of “PTON” will start trading tomorrow on the Nasdaq.

How Peloton made sweat addictive enough to IPO

It makes lazy people like me work out. That’s the genius of the Peloton bicycle. All you have to do is velcro on the shoes and you’re trapped. You’ve eliminated choice and you will exercise. Through a succession of savvy product design choice I’ll break down here, Peloton removes the friction to getting fit. It’s the leader in a movement I call “pushbutton health”. And this is why I think Peloton will be a big succes no matter what short-term investors do when it IPOs this week after raising $994 million in venture capital.

Peloton Bike Photo

The bike

Basically, Peloton is a $2300 stationary bike with an iPad stuck to the front. The $40 per month subscription unlocks thousands of live and on-demand video cycling classes where instructors positively yell at you. When you think you’re tired already, they look into your eyes, tell you “you got this”, the soundtrack crescendos, you crank up the resistance, and you pedal harder at home. The resulting endorphin rush is addictive, and you find yourself persuading friends they need a Peloton too.

That viral loop which adds to its 500,000 subscribers is how Peloton plans to raise ~$1.16 billion going public this week at an ~$8 billion valuation. Its revenue doubled this year as it began to dominate the connected exercise equipment market, though losses quadrupled as it burned cash to become a household name. But after riding 110 of 150 days I’ve been home since buying its bike, I’m confident in the company. Whatever it invests now to build its lead will likely be paid back handsomely by its increasingly handsome customers who can’t bear to clip out. Here’s why.

Peloton Class

Peloton classes are recorded in front of a live studio audience of riders

The Brilliance Of This Bike

The Shoes – Usually the activation energy to start a workout requires dragging yourself to the gym or suiting up to face the elements outside. That can be daunting enough that you rarely do. But once you slip into the Peloton bike shoes, you can hardly walk normally which means you can hardly procrastinate. You’re home so you don’t even need clothes. Just a few velcro straps and you’re over the hump and resigned to exercise.

The Clips – Home gym equipments reduces the barrier to entry but also the barrier to exit. You can tell yourself you’ll keep doing push-up sets or squats jumping rope, but you can stop any time. Yet after you’re clipped into the Peloton bike, you’re almost assured to keep pedaling until the instructor gives you that end-of-ride congratulations.

Peloton Shoes

Just put the shoes on and you’ll exercise

The Schedule – You can get a sweat in just 10 or 20 minutes going hard on a Peloton. Combined with zero commute, that means you’ll practically always be able fit in a ride regardless of how busy you are. No more “I don’t have time to make it to the gym so I’ll just skip out”. When my calendar gets crunched or I dawdle a little before deciding to ride, classes as short as 5 minutes ensure there’s no weaseling out.

The Instructors – I wish I had these coaches to motivate me through sorting email. Peloton’s 20+ instructors range from hippie-dippie gurus to no-nonsense trainers that fit your personality type. You find yourself craving your favorite’s special brand of relentless positivity. I burn far more calories in a shorter time than exercising solo because they inspire me to push a little harder or they slow their countdown to add a couple all-out seconds to the end of a sprint. They’re even becoming celebrities, with bankers lining up for selfies during Peloton’s IPO road show. Sick of them? You can always Scenic Ride through video of some of the world’s prettiest bike paths.

Peloton Instructors

Peloton instructors (from left): Alex Toussaint, Emma Lovewell, Ben Alldis, and Leane Hainsby

The Intimacy – You’re eye-to-eye with those instructors as they stare into the camera and out of the giant screen bolted to your handlebars. That generates intimacy despite them broadcasting to thousands. Even in person, a SoulCycle coach across the room can feel further away. You’re mostly guided by audio cues, but their gaze compels you to perform. Peloton almost feels like FaceTime, and that’s a sense of connection many long for more of these days.

The Pavlovian Response – Your brain quickly begins to associate the sounds of Peloton with the glowing feeling of finishing a workout. The rip of the velcro shoe straps, the click of clipping into the bike, but most of all the instructor catch-phrases. You get hooked on hear the bubbling British accent of “I’mmmm Leeaannne Haaaaainsby” as she introduces herself, Ben Alldis’ infectious “You got 5, you got 4…” countdowns, or Emma Lovewell reminding you to “Live, learn, love well”. That final ‘namaste’ followed by wiping down the bike and jumping in a cold shower forms a ritual you’re inclined to repeat.

Peloton Class

Eye-contact with the instructors creates an intimate bond

The Soundtrack – Popular songs are more than just a pump-up accompaniment to Peloton classes. Your pedaling pace is often pegged to the tempo, with sprints starting when the beat drops. As your legs tire, you feel obliged to maintain your speed so you don’t fall behind the drums. You can even search classes by music genre and preview each’s playlist. Peloton has paid out $50 million in royalties for its music, and faces $300 million-plus in lawsuits for copyright infringement. But having the best tunes to bike to might end up worth the penalty since it helped Peloton race ahead in a lucrative market.

The Bike As Decor – Most home exercise equipment ends up in a closet or as a clothing rack. By designing its bicycles for beauty, Peloton coerces you to place them conspicuously in your home. You might have seen the hysterical Twitter thread parodying this practice, but it’s funny because it’s true. You’re a lot more likely to ride it if it’s central to your home (ours is between our bed and the doors to the veranda), and you’ll be embarassed if visitors ask about it and you haven’t hopped on recently.

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“A good place for your Peloton bike is between your kitchen and your living room facing the cactus garden so you always remember virtual spin class” –ClueHeywood on Twitter

The Network Effect – Many of these smart product design moves could be copied by competitors. But by amassing a community of 1.4 million members to date, Peloton benefits from social features and economies of scale. You can ride together with pals over video chat, send each other digital high fives, or race and compare achievements. Each friend that joins Peloton is one more reason not to sign up for a competitor. The whole concept virtual personal training is being legitimized. And the cost of producing more classes gets spread wider as membership grows.

The Shared Accounts – Peloton has even built in a way to feel noble about your sanctimonious prosyletizing about how it “jumpstarted your metabolism”. Each $39 on-bike subscription allows unlimited accounts on up to three devices, so you can hook up some friends if you convince them to buy the big-budget gadget.

Peloton High Five

High-five fellow riders as you virtuall pass them

The Growth Hacks – Peloton streaks are for adults what Snapchat streaks are to kids: a clever way to reward consistent usage. But beyond the achievement badges displayed on your profile, you’ll get in-ride leaderboards full of people to proudly pass, progress bars to fill by pedaling, and kilojoule output high scores to beat. Peloton makes exercise a game you want to win.

The Shoutouts – Yet Peloton’s most explicit levering of our psychology comes from the in-class name-drop shoutouts instructors give. Whether mentioning the screen names of a few participants at the start of a session or congratulating users hitting their 50th, 200th, or 500th ride, the recognition pushes people to join the dozen live-streamed classes each day that add urgency to the on-demand catalog. Proof it works? People strategize to ensure their 100th ride is a long live class to maximize the chance of a shout-out.

Peloton Century Club Free Shirt

A free cult shirt after your 100th ride

The ‘Transcendence’ – Peloton minimizes the isolation from working out at home. In fact, its whole product enables people to feel ‘glamorous’ and ‘manifested’ yet nonchalant in ways going to a sweaty gym or using a personal trainer can’t. It’s like being able to buy a little piece of the smug satisfaction and in-group affiliation of going to Burning Man. That’s why the company even sends you a free “Century Club” t-shirt when you hit your 100th ride. You’re meant to feel cool sharing that you “Peloton”, using the startup’s name as a verb.

Peloton Conspicuous Self Actualization 2

Conspicuous Self-Actualization

Still, Peloton has plenty left to optimize. There’s room to expand use of its camera to offer premium one-on-one coaching, head-to-head racing, group video chat with friends, and augmented reality filters to make people feel comfortable on screen and take shareable selfies. A wider range of intense but short classes could appeal to overworked professionals who picked Peloton precisely because they don’t have an hour for the gym.

Novelty could come from celebrity guest instructors, or themed classes for pre-gaming for a night out, fans of a particular artist, or songs about a certain topic. And it should definitely have some iconic sounds like an om or singing bowl chime that play before each class to center you and after to release you.

Most excitingly, the Peloton screen has the potential to be a platform for exercise-controlled gaming and apps. Whether pedaling to escape zombies chasing you or piece together a puzzle, maintaining an output level to keep your cross-hairs locked on an enemy plane as you dogfight, or making a garden bloom by growing each flower during a different interval, Peloton could evolve riding to be much more interactive. Apps could offer training simulators for different sports focused on sprints for basketball or marathons for soccer. Or just put Netflix on it! By opening up to outside developers, Peloton could build a moat of extra experiences competitors can’t match.

With the strengths and opportunities of its core product, Peloton is poised to absorb more of your fitness time and money. It’s already branching out with yoga, meditation, lifting, bootcamp, and jazzercise classes you can do standing next to your bike or without one on its $19 per month app. Its second gadget is a $4300 treadmill.

From there it could break into more of the “pushbutton health” business. I categorize these as wellness products and services that rely on convenience instead of your will power. Think delivery health food instead calorie-counting apps that are a chore. My pushbutton regimen includes Peloton, six salads per week dropped off in batches by Thistle, monthly packages of Nomiku vacuum-sealed meals that RFID scan into its sous vide machine, and a Future remote personal trainer who nags me by text message.

Peloton Coaching

It’s easy to get hooked on the positivity

Peloton could easily dive into selling meal kits, personal training, or a wider range of workout clothes to compete with Lulu Lemon. If it’s the center of your fitness routine, the company could become a gateway to new health products it owns or partners with.

I’m bullish on Peloton because I’m betting people are going to stay busy, lazy, and competitive. It offers the effectiveness of a spin class but with scheduling flexibility. It removes every excuse for staying on the couch. And in an age of visual communication where many seek to share both the journey to and the destination of an Instagrammable body and the discipline to ge there, Peloton provides conspicuous self-actualization through consumerism. Plus, finishing a ride feels damn good.

The We Company reportedly will put its public offering on hold

The We Company, parent company of the short-term real estate property management and development company WeWork and other We-related subsidiaries, is reportedly shelving its plans for an initial public offering.

The company’s plans for a public offering have been hampered by questions about its corporate governance and the ultimate value of a company that private investors once thought was worth nearly $50 billion.

Public investors were balking at that sky-high valuation and the company’s questionable governance practices under chief executive officer and co-founder, Adam Neumann, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news that The We Company would put its offering on hold. 

Over the past few weeks, The We Company has made several moves to allay investors’ concerns. The company unwound some particularly egregious transactions with Neumann and added new directors. It also moved to limit Neumann’s power at the company.

Last week, the company amended its prospectus to include the appointment of an independent lead director. It also slashed the strength of Class B and Class C shares so Neumann would not have 20 times the voting power of other shareholders, and removed Neumann’s wife from succession planning at the company.

Even these steps were not enough to comfort Wall Street investors, apparently. Not even the attempts to slash the company’s valuation to below $10 billion could attract enough investor interest to the public offering. And the opacity of The We Company’s reporting and metrics likely did nothing to help matters in the eyes of the investing public.

Now that The We Company is likely to pull its public offering… and with Uber and Lyft underperforming in their first year as public companies, perhaps venture capital firms will rethink the sky-high valuations they’d placed on their portfolio companies. Perhaps it’s time to relearn the lesson that greed may not actually be good.

We have reached out to The We Company for comment and will update with their response.

This story is developing. 

 

 

SmileDirectClub makes its debut on the public market

SmileDirectClub rang the opening bell earlier today, marking its first day of trading as a public company. The teeth-straightening company is now trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol “SDC.”

Already, the stock is trading down 11% at $20.36 per share.

SmileDirectClub kicked off its IPO hoping to raise up to $1.3 billion at an offering price of $23 per share, with an expected market cap of around $10 billion. The company originally intended to set its price between $19 and $22 per share.

“We are focused on long term shareholder value – the next 12, 24, 36 months and beyond,” SmileDirectClub CFO Kyle Wailes said in a statement to TechCrunch. “Today’s IPO allows us to reinvest in innovation in product, process, international growth and customer experience. We are just getting started but our commitment to our mission, our 5,500+ team members, our customers and now our shareholders is stronger than ever.”

The company plans to use money raised from the IPO for international expansion and developing new dental products. SmileDirectClub filed to go public back in August amid concerns from national dental associations.

Prior to this, SmileDirectClub reached a $3.2 billion valuation following a $380 million funding round last October. Investors from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice led the round, which featured participation from Kleiner Perkins and Spark Capital. This funding came on top of Invisalign maker Align Technology’s $46.7 million investment in SmileDirectClub in 2016, and another $12.8 million investment in 2017 to own a total of 19% of the company.

In 2018, SmileDirectClub’s revenues came in at $432.2 million, a significant uptick from just $147 million the year prior.

The company ships invisible aligners directly to customers, and licensed dental professionals (either orthodontists or general dentists) remotely monitor the progress of the patient. Before shipping the aligners, patients either take their dental impressions at home and send them to SmileDirectClub or visit one of the company’s “SmileShops” to be scanned in person.

SmileDirectClub says it costs 60% less than other types of teeth-straightening treatments, with the length of treatments ranging from four to 14 months. Upfront, SmileDirectClub costs $1,895, with the average treatment lasting six months.

Though, members of the American Association of Orthodontists have taken issue with SmileDirectClub, previously asserting that SmileDirectClub violates the law because its methods of allowing people to skip in-person visits and X-rays is “illegal and creates medical risks.” The organization has also filed complaints against SmileDirectClub in 36 states, alleging violations of statutes and regulations governing the practice of dentistry. Those complaints were filed with the regulatory boards that oversee dentistry practices and with the attorneys general of each state.

SmileDirectClub explicitly calls out those issues in its S-1 as potential risk factors. Here’s a key nugget:

A number of dental and orthodontic professionals believe that clear aligners are appropriate for only a limited percentage of their patients. National and state dental associations have issued statements discouraging use of orthodontics using a teledentistry platform. Increased market acceptance of our remote clear aligner treatment may depend, in part, upon the recommendations of dental and orthodontic professionals and associations, as well as other factors including effectiveness, safety, ease of use, reliability, aesthetics, and price compared to competing products.

Furthermore, our ability to conduct business in each state is dependent, in part, upon that particular state’s treatment of remote healthcare and that state dental board’s regulation of the practice of dentistry, each which are subject to changing political, regulatory, and other influences. There is a risk that state authorities may find that our contractual relationships with our doctors violate laws and regulations prohibiting the corporate practice of dentistry, which generally bar the practice of dentistry by entities. Two state dental boards have established new rules or interpreted existing rules in a manner that purports to limit or restrict our ability to conduct our business as currently conducted.

Additionally, as the S-1 notes, a national dental association recently filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration claiming that SmileDirectClub’s manufacturing violates “prescription only” requirements. While no regulations or laws have been passed that would affect SmileDirectClub to date, it’s a possible scenario that would greatly impact the company’s core business.

WeWork loses its chief communications officer ahead of planned IPO

It could just be a better job offer, but WeWork’s top communications executive, Jennifer Skyler, has announced to her contacts that she is leaving the co-working giant to become the chief corporate affairs officer at American Express later this fall.

Skyler joined WeWork four years ago as its first communications hire, after spending three years as a director of communications at Facebook in New York. Skyler joined the fast-growing company as its global head of public affairs, working with us closely when we sat down with cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2017.

Last year, she was promoted to the role of chief communications officer.

Skyler calls the past few years an “incredible journey,” one she was ready to end just as WeWork attempts to go public, apparently against the wishes of its biggest backer, SoftBank, which has concerns about how WeWork will be valued by public market shareholders.

Worth noting, another top communications exec, Dominic McMullen, who joined WeWork in 2016 as a vice president and the head of corporate communications, also recently announced some “personal news,” telling his network in late July that after becoming a dad (twice) in recent years, he had decided to take time off to spend with his family in Brooklyn for now.

2019 tech IPOs: Some thoughts from the public company roller coaster

2019 has already been an active year for U.S. tech IPOs. Some highly anticipated unicorns, such as Uber and Lyft, have disappointed investors with their IPO debuts and their first results as public companies. Others, such as Fiverr, Zoom and CrowdStrike, have soared. And food-tech brand Beyond Meat (two words you normally don’t see together) hit a high of $239 from their $25 IPO price.

The first of these 2019 tech IPO companies will soon face a new challenge as the early investor and employee lockups expire — often 180 days after the IPO — allowing them to sell and increasing the number of shares available to trade. Lyft will remain at the front of the 2019 pack when the lockups expire, bringing more of the company’s stock into play on the public market. Regardless of what happens next, it’s amazing to see the trajectory of companies that have built such impressive businesses in such a remarkably short period of time.

I was recently at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to ring the opening bell and celebrate our three- millionth borrower on the platform. It brought back great memories from when our company, LendingClub, entered the public fray in 2014. LendingClub was the largest U.S. tech IPO that year, and is still one of the biggest U.S. tech IPOs of all time. We listed at a $5.4 billion valuation, and our shares surged 67% on the first day of trading. We were thrilled to celebrate the validation of our hard work and excited about the next stage of our growth. However, by the time our lockups expired, we had fallen back to around our IPO valuation of $15 a share.

Since then, despite being the market leader in the fastest-growing sector of consumer credit in the country with double-digit annual growth, the company today is worth less than a fifth of what it was in 2014. Our story is thankfully unique, and I’ll spare you the details here, but suffice to say… we had a rough period. We are back on track now, delivering growth and margin expansion while executing against our vision.

However bespoke our story, there are some observations I’ll share that might be useful for others as they think about life post-IPO. I’m not going to cover the issues around short-termism and the tyranny of quarterly targets (which have been well-documented elsewhere), but rather a few of the implications that sure would have been useful for me to know going in…

Things will be different — really

I’d compare the period leading up to the IPO to the period when you are expecting a baby. Intellectually, you know things will be different when you bring home a newborn. But knowing it and living it are two different things. Going public is a transformational event that permanently changes your company and how the CEO, CFO and board spend their time (with obvious trickle-down effects). From the moment we rang the NYSE bell on December 11, 2014, everything changed.

Making money matters

Investors buying your stock are essentially valuing your future cash flow. At some point, you have to have your “show them the money” moment and become profitable. Amazon famously lost a total of $2.8 billion over 17 straight quarters after their IPO and was the subject of a lot of skepticism and criticism throughout. The company maintained their strategy, delivering top-line growth and investing in their future and, suffice to say, investor patience paid off!

At LendingClub, we have invested millions of dollars to develop products that delight our 3 million+ customers (and, at 78, our NPS is at its highest level in the history of the company) and expand our competitive moat. We are now driving toward adjusted net income profitability.

Like it or not, there is a scoreboard

Once you go public, some people stop thinking of you as a business, and start thinking about you as a stock price. And that stock price is always broadcasting. It broadcasts to your equity investors, your employees, your partners, your board — to everyone who is listening.

You can’t preserve your culture, but you can and must maintain the values your company holds dear.

When the stock is up, everyone feels great. But, in a volatile market or a downturn, there are a lot of people who will be needing to hear your view on what’s happening. Communication to your stakeholders is not in the way of you doing your job, it is a critical part of your job that just got A LOT bigger. You need to stay ahead of it and deliberately carve out the time to make it a priority.

There are others sharing the microphone

When you are starting out, the world is divided into two types of people: those who love you, and those who don’t know/care. When you are a public company, a lot of voices join the conversation. You’ll add a different beat of reporters focused on your financials. You have analysts who are paid to research and think about your company, your strategy, your prospects and your value. These analysts may have never covered a company quite like yours (after all, you are breaking new ground) and you’ll need to spend time together to understand what matters.

You also can attract a whole new kind of investor, a “short” who has a vested interest in your stock going down. All of these voices are speaking to your stakeholders and you need to understand what they are saying and how it should affect your own communications.

Be careful, the microphone is on

Remember those days when everyone attended the “all hands” and you could share the details of your product road map, your corporate strategy, what’s working and what isn’t? Yeah, those are over. The risk of material nonpublic information leaking means you need to find a new balance in transparency with your employees (and your friends and partners for that matter).

It’s a change to behavior and to culture that doesn’t come naturally (at least it didn’t to me). It’s a change that can be frustrating to employees as the necessary opacity can erode trust as people feel out of the loop. At LendingClub, we still regularly communicate as much as we can and trust our employees, but there are places where you have to draw the line.

Your competitors are listening

Ironically enough, while your ability to share key details with employees is limited, you are sharing a lot with your competition. Shareholders and money managers want to know your battle plans and expect a detailed update at your earnings call every quarter. You can expect that your competitors are taking notice and taking notes.

Your scarcest resource

As the above would indicate, being public means that you are inevitably going to be spending less time running the business, and more time focused externally. Not a bad thing, but something you need to plan for so that you have the resources in place underneath you to maintain business momentum. If your management team isn’t materially different as you head to the market than it was a few years ago, I’d be surprised if you have what you need.

Your culture will change, focus on your values

I once asked a senior Google executive advice on how to preserve culture when going through massive periods of transition. She told me that you can’t preserve your culture, but you can and must maintain the values your company holds dear. Her advice, which I have followed and am passing on to you, is to make sure you write them down, hire against them and assess performance against them.

We started this practice years ago and it is remarkable how consistent our values have remained even as the company has evolved and matured. We codified six core values that put the customer at the center of everything we do. We are guided by our No. 1 value — Do What’s Right. You know a LendingClubber when you meet them, and it is part of what makes us great.

Being a public company is not for the faint-hearted, but being public is part of growing up. Being public legitimizes the company, unlocks liquidity to fuel growth and enables you to attract the next generation of talent. We always said that going public would allow us to deliver more value to a greater number of consumers and would lend legitimacy to our growing industry. We have facilitated more than $50 billion in loans and are still at a small percentage of our immediately addressable market. Although challenging at times, we’re seeing our dream to truly help everyday Americans come to life.

We’ve worked hard since our IPO to change the face people associate with finance. We’ve built a diverse team, established strong core values and nurtured a culture that has resulted in the kind of company we want to represent fintech and the tech industry as a whole — both inside and outside Silicon Valley.

So, to the new joiners in the public sphere — life in the spotlight is a wild ride. Congratulations on this step in your journey, and on to the next!

Peloton files publicly for IPO

Peloton, the well-funded maker of internet-connected stationary bikes and treadmills, has finally revealed documents for its upcoming initial public offering. The business previously submitted a confidential draft submission of its S-1 statement to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in June.

The New York-based company, which plans to raise $500 million in its Nasdaq offering, will trade under the ticker symbol PTON.

Peloton reported $915 million in total revenue for the year ending June 30, 2019, an increase of 110% from $435 million in fiscal 2018 and $218.6 million in 2017. Its losses, meanwhile, hit $245.7 million in 2019, up significantly from a reported net loss of $47.9 million last year.

The company has reached 1.4 million total community members, defined as any individual who has a Peloton account.

Peloton customers subscribe to the company’s digital library of fitness content, streamed live and on-demand, for $39 per month, in addition to purchasing its hardware, which costs $2,200 to $4,295 apiece. The company says 58 million workouts were completed by Peloton users in fiscal 2019, while its paying subscriber base reached an all-time high of 511,202.

As for subscription revenue, Peloton reports $181 million for fiscal 2019, up from $80 million last year.Peloton class1 SCREEN

Envisioning a world in which 67 million households own connected fitness equipment, Peloton co-founder and chief executive officer John Foley writes in the S-1 that “Peloton sells happiness.”

“Peloton is so much more than a Bike — we believe we have the opportunity to create one of the most innovative global technology platforms of our time,” writes Foley. “It is an opportunity to create one of the most important and influential interactive media companies in the world; a media company that changes lives, inspires greatness, and unites people.”

Peloton, founded in 2012, raised $550 million in venture capital funding last year at a valuation of $4.15 billion. The startup, which initially struggled greatly to convince venture capitalists of its vision, has since inspired a new wave of fitness tech companies to launch, including a smart mirror company appropriately named “Mirror.”

In total, Peloton has raised $994 million in venture capital funding, according to PitchBook. Its S-1 filing lists CP Interactive Fitness (5.4% pre-IPO stake) — an entity connected to the private equity firm Catterton — TCV (6.7%), Tiger Global (19.8%), True Ventures (12%) and Fidelity Investments (6.8%) as principal stakeholders, or investors with at least a 5% stake in the company.

Goldman Sachs & Co. and J.P. Morgan Securities are managing the IPO as lead underwriters.

Megvii, the Chinese startup unicorn known for facial recognition tech, files to go public in Hong Kong

Megvii Technology, the Beijing-based artificial intelligence startup known in particular for its facial recognition brand Face++, has filed for a public listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Its prospectus did not disclose share pricing or when the IPO will take place, but Reuters reports that the company plans to raise between $500 million and $1 billion and list in the fourth quarter of this year. Megvii’s investors include Alibaba, Ant Financial and the Bank of China. Its last funding round was a Series D of $750 million announced in May that reportedly brought its valuation to more than $4 billion.

Founded by three Tsinghua University graduates in 2011, Megvii is among China’s leading AI startups, with its peers (and rivals) including SenseTime and Yitu. Its clients include Alibaba, Ant Financial, Lenovo, China Mobile and Chinese government entities.

The company’s decision to list in Hong Kong comes against the backdrop of an economic recession and political unrest, including pro-democracy demonstrations, factors that have contributed to a slump in the value of the benchmark Hang Seng index. Last month, Alibaba reportedly decided to postpone its Hong Kong listing until the political and economic environment becomes more favorable.

Megvii’s prospectus discloses both rapid growth in revenue and widening losses, which the company attributes to changes in the fair value of its preferred shares and investment in research and development. Its revenue grew from 67.8 million RMB in 2016 to 1.42 billion RMB in 2018, representing a compound annual growth rate of about 359%. In the first six months of 2019, it made 948.9 million RMB. Between 2016 and 2018, however, its losses increased from 342.8 million RMB to 3.35 billion RMB, and in the first half of this year, Megvii has already lost 5.2 billion RMB.

Investment risks listed by Megvii include high R&D costs, the U.S.-China trade war and negative publicity over facial recognition technology. Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch published a report that linked Face++ to a mobile app used by Chinese police and officials for mass surveillance of Uighurs in Xinjiang, but it later added a correction that said Megvii’s technology had not been used in the app. Megvii’s prospectus alluded to the report, saying that in spite of the correction, the report “still caused significant damages to our reputation which are difficult to completely mitigate.”

The company also said that despite internal measures to prevent misuse of Megvii’s tech, it cannot assure investors that those measures “will always be effective,” and that AI technology’s risks and challenges include “misuse by third parties for inappropriate purposes, for purposes breaching public confidence or even violate applicable laws and regulations in China and other jurisdictions, bias applications or mass surveillance, that could affect user perception, public opinions and their adoption.”

From a macroeconomic perspective, Megvii’s investment risks include the restrictions and tariffs placed on Chinese exports to the U.S. as part of the ongoing trade war. It also cited reports that Megvii is among the Chinese tech companies the U.S. government may add to trade blacklists. “Although we are not aware of, nor have we received any notification, that we have been added as a target of any such restrictions as of the date this Document, the existence of such media reports itself has already damaged our reputation and diverted our management’s attention,” the prospectus said. “Whether or not we will be included as a target for economic and trade restrictions is beyond our control.”