Zoom, the profitable tech unicorn, prices IPO above range

Zoom, a relatively under-the-radar tech unicorn, has defied expectations with its initial public offering. The video conferencing business priced its IPO above its planned range on Wednesday, confirming plans to sell shares of its Nasdaq stock, titled “ZM,” at $36 apiece, CNBC reports.

The company initially planned to price its shares at between $28 and $32 per share, but following big demand for a piece of a profitable tech business, Zoom increased expectations, announcing plans to sell shares at between $33 and $35 apiece.

The offering gives Zoom an initial market cap of roughly $9 billion, or nine times that of its most recent private market valuation.

Zoom plans to sell 9,911,434 shares of Class A common stock in the listing, to bring in about $350 million in new capital.

If you haven’t had the chance to dive into Zoom’s IPO prospectus, here’s a quick run-down of its financials:

  • Zoom raised a total of $145 million from venture capitalists before filing to go public
  • It posted $330 million in revenue in the year ending January 31, 2019 with a gross profit of $269.5 million
  • It more than doubled revenues from 2017 to 2018, ending 2017 with $60.8 million in revenue and 2018 with $151.5 million
  • Its losses have shrunk from $14 million in 2017, $8.2 million in 2018 and just $7.5 million in the year ending January 2019

Zoom is backed by Emergence Capital, which owns a 12.2 percent pre-IPO stake; Sequoia Capital (11.1 percent); Digital Mobile Venture, a fund affiliated with former Zoom board member Samuel Chen (8.5 percent); and Bucantini Enterprises Limited (5.9 percent), a fund owned by Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing.

Zoom will debut on the Nasdaq the same day Pinterest will go public on the NYSE. Pinterest, for its part, has priced its shares above its planned range, per The Wall Street Journal.

Zoom increases IPO price range ahead of Thursday listing

Zoom, the developer of video conferencing software, plans to list its shares on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “ZM” at between $33 and $35 apiece, per an updated S-1 filing. The company has also announced plans to sell $100 million in Class A shares to Salesforce Ventures at the initial public offering price.

The latest price range is a step up from Zoom’s earlier plans to charge between $28 and $32 per share.

Zoom plans to sell 9,911,434 shares of Class A common stock in the listing, expected Thursday. A midpoint price would secure Zoom about $337 million in new capital. If Zoom prices its shares at the top of the planned range, it’s poised to see an initial market cap of $9 billion, or a 9x increase to the $1 billion valuation it garnered with its latest private funding round.

The company, however, has been valued much higher on the secondary market since its $115 million Series D in 2017.

Zoom is backed by Emergence Capital, which owns a 12.2 percent pre-IPO stake; Sequoia Capital  (11.1 percent); Digital Mobile Venture, a fund affiliated with former Zoom board member Samuel Chen (8.5 percent),; and Bucantini Enterprises Limited (5.9 percent), a fund owned by Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing.

The company is a rare breed of unicorn: A profitable one. That characteristic has likely fueled demand for its IPO, especially as several other unprofitable unicorns transition to the public markets.

Zoom, which has raised a total of $145 million to date, posted $330 million in revenue in the year ending January 31, 2019, a remarkable 2x increase year-over-year, with a gross profit of $269.5 million. The company similarly more than doubled revenues from 2017 to 2018, wrapping fiscal year 2017 with $60.8 million in revenue and 2018 with $151.5 million.

The company’s losses are shrinking, from $14 million in 2017, $8.2 million in 2018 and just $7.5 million in the year ending January 2019.

The company will list its shares on Thursday, the same day “PINS,” another high-profile stock, will begin trading.

Armis nabs $65M Series C as IoT security biz grows in leaps and bounds

Armis is helping companies protect IoT devices on the network without using an agent, and it’s apparently a problem that is resonating with the market, as the startup reports 700 percent growth in the last year. That caught the attention of investors, who awarded them with a $65 million Series C investment to help keep accelerating that growth.

Sequoia Capital led the round with help from new investors Insight Venture Partners and Intermountain Ventures. Returning investors Bain Capital Ventures, Red Dot Capital Partners and Tenaya Capital also participated. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $112 million, according to the company.

The company is solving a hard problem around device management on a network. If you have devices where you cannot apply an agent to track them, how do you manage them? Nadir Izrael, company co-founder and CTO, says you have to do it very carefully because even scanning for ports could be too much for older devices and they could shut down. Instead, he says that Armis takes a passive approach to security, watching and learning and understanding what normal device behavior looks like — a kind of behavioral fingerprinting.

“We observe what devices do on the network. We look at their behavior, and we figure out from that everything we need to know,” Izreal told TechCrunch. He adds, “Armis in a nutshell is a giant device behavior crowdsourcing engine. Basically, every client of Armis is constantly learning how devices behave. And those statistical models, those machine learning models, they get merged into master models.”

Whatever they are doing, they seem to have hit upon a security pain point. They announced a $30 million Series B almost exactly a year ago, and they went back for more because they were growing quickly and needed the capital to hire people to keep up.

That kind of growth is a challenge for any startup. The company expects to double its 125 person work force before the end of the year, but the company is working to put systems in place to incorporate those new people and service all of those new customers.

The company plans to hire more people in sales and marketing, of course, but they will concentrate on customer support and building out partnership programs to get some help from systems integrators, ISVs and MSPs, who can do some of the customer hand-holding for them.

Zoom addresses CFO’s past workplace conduct ahead of IPO

Zoom, the only profitable unicorn in line to go public, priced its initial public offering at between $28 and $32 per share Monday morning. The video conferencing business plans to trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “ZM.”

Zoom, valued at $1 billion in 2017, initially filed to go public in March. According to its amended IPO filing, the company will raise up to $348.1 million by selling 10.9 million Class A shares. The offering will grant Zoom a fully diluted market value of $8.7 billion, a more than 8x increase to its latest private market valuation.

Although the company has garnered praise for its stellar financials — Zoom posted $330 million in revenue in the year ending January 31, 2019, a remarkable 2x increase year-over-year, with a gross profit of $269.5 million — the road to IPO hasn’t been without hiccups.

The company’s founder and chief executive officer Eric Yuan last night published an open letter concerning the conduct of Zoom’s chief financial officer Kelley Steckelberg. According to the letter, Zoom was recently informed by an anonymous source that Steckelberg had an “undisclosed, consensual relationship” during her tenure at a previous employer.

Steckelberg was most recently the CEO of the online dating site Zoosk; before that, she was a senior director in consumer finance at Cisco . The letter does not specify where the relationship took place, when or with whom.

Losing a CFO mere days before an IPO would have been a major loss for Zoom. CFOs often become the face of the IPO, handling the grueling tasks associated with crafting an IPO prospectus, leading the roadshow and more, while also maintaining day-to-day financial operations.

Yuan writes that the Zoom’s board of directors conducted a full investigation into the matter and determined that Steckelberg would stay on as Zoom’s CFO: “Kelly expressed regret for what transpired at her former employer, took ownership for the situation, and made clear to us that she had learned valuable lessons from the experience,” he wrote.

“We appreciated Kelly’s openness and candor during this process,” he continued. “It is clear that this matter related only to circumstances at her former employer. During Kelly’s tenure at Zoom, she has been an incredible contributor, as well as a model steward of our culture, values, and high standards since joining the Company.”

We reached out to Zoosk for comment. Zoom declined to comment further.

Zoom, expected to make the final call on its IPO price next Wednesday, will likely price at the top of range and see a clean pop on its first day on the markets given its clean track record and positive financials. The business was founded in 2011 by Eric Yuan, an early engineer at WebEx, which sold to Cisco for $3.2 billion in 2007. Before launching Zoom, he spent four years at Cisco as its vice president of engineering.

Zoom has raised $145 million to date from investors including Emergence Capital, which owns a 12.2 percent pre-IPO stake, Sequoia Capital (11.1 percent pre-IPO stake); Digital Mobile Venture (8.5 percent), a fund affiliated with former Zoom board member Samuel Chen; and Bucantini Enterprises Limited (5.9 percent), a fund owned by Li Ka-shing, a Chinese billionaire and among the richest people in the world.

Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are leading its offering.

The Wing poaches Snap’s comms director

Women-focused co-working space The Wing has hired Rachel Racusen as vice president of communications. Racusen has been the director of communications at Snap, the developer of Snapchat, since late 2016.

Racusen’s exit represents the latest in a series of departures at the “camera company.”

Earlier this year, the company’s chief financial officer Tim Stone stepped down. Shortly after, The Wall Street Journal reported that Snap had fired its global security head Francis Racioppi after an investigation uncovered that he had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with an outside contractor. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel reportedly asked the company’s HR chief Jason Halbert to step down as a result of the investigation’s findings.

Racusen worked under Snap’s chief communications officer Julie Henderson, who had joined late last year from 21st Century Fox.

Racusen has a history in politics similar to several other executives at The Wing. Ahead of her Snap tenure, she served as the associate communications director under President Barack Obama . Before that, she was a vice president at MSNBC and the public affairs firm SKDKnickerbocker, where The Wing co-founder and chief executive officer Audrey Gelman worked prior to launching her business.

Four months after closing a $75 million Series C, The Wing is making two other key additions to its management team. The company has brought on Nickey Skarstad as vice president of product and Saumya Manohar as general counsel. Skarstad joins from Airbnb, where she was a product lead on the Airbnb Experiences team. Saumya Manohar spent the last three years as Casper’s vice president of legal.

Backed by Sequoia Capital, Upfront Ventures, NEA, Airbnb, WeWork and others, The Wing has raised more than $100 million to date.

“We’re thrilled to be bringing this group of seasoned and talented women to build out our executive team,” Gelman said in a statement. “The Wing is the perfect home for leaders who thrive on fast growth and want to combine their social values with their work practice.”

Flipkart co-founder and other top names join AngelList’s first investment syndicate in India

A little over a year after it introduced Syndicates to the India market, AngelList — the U.S. service that helps connect companies with investors — is rolling out its own fund in the country with the backing of some stellar names.

Dubbed ‘The Collective,’ the syndicate includes money from Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal — Flipkart, of course, sold a majority stake to Walmart for $16 billion last year — and VCs Salil Deshpande of Bain Capital Ventures, Matrix India trio Avnish Bajaj, Tarun Davda and Vikram Vaidyanathan, Navroz Udwadia from Falcon Edge Capital and Rahul Mehta of DST Global. There’s also involvement from funds that include Kalaari Capital, FJ Labs and Beenext.

The Collective will be managed through an investment committee that is Utsav Somani, a partner with AngelList who launched the service in India, former 500 Startups India partner Pankaj Jain and Nipun Mehra, who has worked with Sequoia Capital, Flipkart and payment startup Pine Labs.

The size of the fund is undisclosed, but Somani told TechCrunch it will likely back 60-80 companies over the next 12-18 months. Syndicates interested in engaging The Collective can draw up to $150,000 per deal, according to an AngelList India announcement.

“The fund will exclusively deploy on AngelList India. This is to give more power to the most active GP base we have through our syndicate leads,” Somani explained.

Utsav Somani launched AngelList’s syndicates product in India last year and he will now look after the company’s first managed fund in the country

More generally, he said that the first year of Syndicates in India has seen more than $5 million deployed across more than 50 publicly announced investments, including deals with BharatPe, HalaPlay, Yulu Bikes and Open Bank. Six of those startups have already raised follow-on capital. Somani said AngelList India Syndicates have invested alongside well-known funds that include Sequoia Capital India, Matrix Partners India, Omidyar Network, Blume Ventures and Beenext.

To date, AngelList has helped deploy some $1.09 billion to over 3,100 startups, according to its website. The company claims its portfolio has raised close to $9 billion in follow-on funding. AngelList is primarily focused on the U.S. market, but India is fast becoming a majority priority. Like the U.S., the Indian service is open only to accredited investors so it isn’t a crowdfunding service.

A new lawsuit involving Stanford and Sequoia Capital highlights fights to come over cell-free DNA testing

This morning, a publicly traded transplant diagnostics company called CareDx, along with Stanford University, sued another publicly traded genetic testing company, Natera, for patent infringement.

Much appears to be at stake, and it all centers on cell-free DNA testing, a type of technology that has already been at the crux of numerous lawsuits and looks poised to play center stage again in future corporate battles.

Loosely defined, cell-free DNA (or cfDNA) technology involves blood tests that enable physicians to understand what’s happening in someone’s body. They’re not looking at red or white blood cells (thus the “cell free” part) but at plasma, which carries pieces of broken-up DNA, among other things.

Companies like newly public Guardant Health are using it to try to ensure that cancer patients receive the right drugs. Prenatal cfDNA screening has meanwhile become a common way to screen for specific chromosomal problems in a developing baby — including Down syndrome, trisomy 13 and trisomy 18. The latter has become particularly popular as an alternative to amniocentesis, a more intrusive, and sometimes high-risk, procedure in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is sampled from the amniotic sac surrounding a developing fetus.

Yet another way that cfDNA testing can monitor clinical conditions and make a major impact on healthcare is by distinguishing the relative proportion of DNA molecules in a patient’s blood after that person has had an organ transplant. Though traditionally, recipients have had to undergo biopsies to gauge whether or not their new organ was being accepted or rejected, it’s now possible to measure through the far-less traumatic process of providing blood samples. (Broadly speaking, if, over time, the amount of donor DNA increases in the patient’s blood, things aren’t going well.)

It’s an important, if relatively new, development, and CareDx, a 19-year-old, Brisbane, Calif.-based company that went public in 2014, claims in its newly filed lawsuit that two patents it controls give it the exclusive right to non-invasively diagnose graft rejection in a great many organ transplant patients via cfDNA testing. What we mean: one of the patents covers “kidney transplant, a heart transplant, a liver transplant, a pancreas transplant, a lung transplant, a skin transplant, and any combination thereof.” The second patent covers 16 different methods, devices, compositions and kits for diagnosing or predicting transplant status or patient outcome.

The patents were awarded in recent years to Stanford academics, including Stephen Quake, a renowned professor of bioengineering and applied physics. Though Stanford owns the patents, however, it licenses them to CareDx, and they’ve dramatically enhanced the company’s prospects. Indeed, while its shares were priced at $10 apiece at the time of its IPO, they’ve been trading at $40 each more recently, thanks largely to its AlloSure test, which is designed specifically for kidney transplant patients and, critically, is now covered by Medicare.

Indeed, CareDx’s lawsuit against 15-year-old Natera, which went public in 2015, accuses it of “preparing to develop and commercialize” a too-similar kidney transplant rejection test beginning in the middle of last year. It’s seeking cash compensation and a court order that blocks the sale of Natera’s offering.

It’s an offensive move, too, seemingly, given all those other organs at stake and the markets they could unlock.

Natera, which counts Sequoia Capital’s Roelof Botha as a board member, did not provide an executive to comment on the suit. Botha also declined through a Sequoia spokesperson to comment. But Natera told us in a statement that it’s “confident that we will prevail in this suit should it proceed and do not expect this suit to impact our commercialization plans or disrupt our operations in any way.” Added the company, “We are not surprised that CareDx would attempt to disrupt the imminent commercialization of Natera’s innovative organ transplant rejection test, which does not require donor genotyping, and will compete with CareDx’s older test. In recently published studies, Natera demonstrated superior analytical and clinical test performance.”

What happens next remains to be seen, but it’s not the first imbroglio in which Natera finds itself.  A year ago, the gene-testing company Illumina filed a lawsuit against Natera, alleging that the company’s non-invasive prenatal testing infringes a patent that Illumina controls and that relies on analysis of cell-free DNA present in maternal blood. That case is still moving toward a trial. In the meantime, Illumina last year separately won a $26.7 million jury verdict in a lawsuit accusing a subsidiary of Roche Holdings of using patented prenatal testing technology without authorization.

Last year, Natera also agreed to pay $11.4 million to settle a lawsuit with the U.S. government, after it alleged that Natera submitted false claims to several government health programs based on tips by two former Natera employees who filed an earlier whistleblower lawsuit against the company.

Natera — whose founding CEO, Matthew Rabinowitz, stepped down from his position in January of this year, replaced by longtime Natera employee and COO Steve Chapman — denied the allegations and, as part of the settlement terms, did not admit any wrongdoing.

Either way, Natera, CareDx and Illumina aren’t the only ones duking it out over cell-free DNA testing.

In 2017, for example, Guardant filed a lawsuit against rival Foundation Medicine, alleging that Foundation’s advertising for its own liquid and tissue tests harmed both Guardant and cancer patients by misleading oncologists about the relative accuracy and sensitivity of the competing genomic tests. Foundation later sued Guardant, alleging infringement of a patent that covers methods for analyzing a cancer patient’s tissue or blood sample to detect multiple classes of genomic alterations.

The two companies later settled both without disclosing the terms of their agreement, but Guardant has more recently sued Foundation again. It is also embroiled in an ongoing lawsuit against another rival called Personal Genome Diagnostics over its cell-free DNA technology.

Zoom, a profitable unicorn, files to go public

Zoom, the video conferencing startup valued at $1 billion in early 2017, has filed to go public on the Nasdaq as soon as next month.

The company joins a growing list of tech unicorns making the leap to the public markets in 2019, but it stands out for one very important reason: It’s actually profitable.

Zoom was founded in 2011 by Eric Yuan, a co-founder of WebEx, which sold to Oracle for $3.2 billion in 2007. Before launching Zoom, he spent four years at Cisco as its vice president of engineering. In a conversation with TechCrunch last month, he said he would never sell another company again, hinting at his dissatisfaction at WebEx’s post-acquisition treatment being his motivation for taking Zoom public as opposed to selling.

Zoom, which raised a total of $145 million to date, posted $330 million in revenue in the year ending January 31, 2019, a remarkable 2x increase year-over-year, with a gross profit of $269.5 million. The company similarly more than doubled revenues from 2017 to 2018, wrapping fiscal year 2017 with $60.8 million in revenue and 2018 with $151.5 million.

The company’s losses are shrinking, from $14 million in 2017, $8.2 million in 2018 and just $7.5 million in the year ending January 2019.

Zoom is backed by Emergence Capital, which owns a 12.5 percent pre-IPO stake, according to the IPO filing. Other investors in the business include Sequoia Capital (11.4 percent pre-IPO stake); Digital Mobile Venture (9.8 percent), a fund affiliated with former Zoom board member Samuel Chen; and Bucantini Enterprises Limited (6.1 percent), a fund owned by Li Ka-shing, a Chinese billionaire and among the richest people in the world.

Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have been recruited to lead the offering.

Lyft’s IPO is hot, YC Demo Day, two new unicorns and what’s Boy Brow?

  • There were some edit issues in the initial publishing of this week’s Equity episode that have been corrected. The player below will play the corrected episode.

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

This week Kate Clark and Alex Wilhelm took us through an IPO, a big round, 943 startup pitches, two new unicorns and some scooter news. A very 2019 mix, really.

Up first we took a peek at the latest from the Lyft IPO saga. Recall that Lyft is beating Uber to the public markets, and we can report that it’s having a good time doing so. The popular ride-hailing company, second-place by market share in its domestic market, is oversubscribed at an already healthy valuation. If the company will raise its price and the number of shares that it sells isn’t yet known, but early indications hint that Lyft timed its IPO well.

Next, we took a look at the recent OpenDoor round that has been long-rumored. Tipping the scales at $300 million, and valuing the home-buying-and-selling startup at $3.8 billion, the company’s latest equity event was a bit higher than expected. There are other players in its space, and the firm isn’t yet recession-tested. All the same, a Murderers’ Row of capital lined up for the latest round.

Moving on, Kate went to Y Combinator’s Demo Day and got a closer look at the accelerator’s latest batch. There were a ton of two-minute pitches, many of which sounded the same, but chances are we’ll see a few unicorns emerge from the bunch. And, interesting tidbit, some of the companies actually forwent Demo Day and raised capital before they could hit the stage!

Later, we discuss two new unicorns. This week’s unicorns had a theme and one that was new to Equity. This time, both the billion-dollar businesses mentioned on the show were founded by women. As Kate noted, there aren’t too many of those, so to see two in the same week is great.

Glossier, founded by Emily Weiss, brought in a $100 million Series D led by Sequoia Capital . The round values the beauty business at a whopping $1.2 billion, tripling the valuation it garnered with a $52 million Series C in 2018. As for Rent The Runway, a startup founded by Jen Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, it closed a $125 million round led by Franklin Templeton Investments and Bain Capital Ventures. This round values the company at $1 billion. Hyman took to Twitter to share some inspirational words on raising capital as a woman, a pregnant woman, in heels!

And finally, we took a look at a Parisian scooter tax. Mostly because Alex wanted to talk about Paris.

And that’s Equity for the week. We’ll see you soon!

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercast, Pocket Casts, Downcast and all the casts.

Robotics process automation startup UiPath raising $400M at more than $7B valuation

UiPath, a robotics process automation platform targeting IT businesses, is raising more than $400 million in Series D funding from venture capital investors at a valuation north of $7 billion, sources have confirmed to TechCrunch following a report from Business Insider.

We’ve reached out to the company for comment.

UiPath, founded in 2005, has raised $409 million to date, meaning the new round of capital will double the total capital invested in the startup, as well as its valuation. Its $225 million Series C, raised just six months ago, valued the business at $3 billion, according to PitchBook. UiPath is backed by top-tier investors CapitalG and Sequoia Capital, which co-led its Series C, as well as Accel, Credo Ventures and Earlybird Venture Capital, among others.

The latest funding round is being led by a public institutional investor.

UiPath develops automated software workflows meant to facilitate the tedious, everyday tasks within business operations. RPA is probably a misnomer. It’s not necessarily a robot in the way we think of it today. It’s more like a highly sophisticated macro recorder or workflow automation tool, letting a computer handle a series of highly repeatable activities in a common workflow, like accounts payable.

For example, the process could start by scanning a check, then use OCR to read the payer and the amount, add that information to an Excel spreadsheet and send an email to a human to confirm it has been done. Humans still have a role, especially in processing exceptions, but it provides a way to bring a level of automation to legacy systems, which might not otherwise benefit from more modern tooling.

The company began raising private capital in 2015 and has since experienced rapid growth of its valuation and annual recurring revenue (ARR). UiPath garnered a $1.1 billion valuation with its Series B in March 2018, more than doubled it with its Series C and is again seeing a 2x increase in value with this latest round. This is a result of its swelling ARR.

The company says it went from $1 million to $100 million in annual recurring revenue in less than two years. With its Series C, it counted 1,800 enterprise customers and was adding six new customers a day. Sources tell TechCrunch that UiPath did 180 million in ARR last year and is on track to do $450 million in ARR in 2019.