Connect with us

Uncategorized

Fintech darling Nubank raises blockbuster $400M Series G at $25B valuation

Published

on

While the pandemic has left some startups strapped for cash, the aptly-named Brazilian neobank Nubank is swimming in it. This morning, the company announced that it has raised a $400 million Series G round, putting their total funding to date at $1.2 billion. But even more remarkable, in addition to their new $25 billion valuation (up from $10 billion in 2019), is their customer base of 34 million users, which they’ve built up since the fintech’s launch in 2013.

“We’ve gone from 12 million customers in 2019 to 34 million solely based on word of mouth,” said David Velez, the company’s co-founder and CEO. By September last year, the company was onboarding 41,000 new customers per day. NuBank prides itself on having a $0 customer acquisition cost. Velez said the startup spends what would be marketing money on “great salaries” and superior customer service, which in turn creates “fanatic” customers who share their love for the brand with others.

The new valuation places NuBank as the fourth most valuable financial institution in Latin America and the largest digital bank in the world by the number of customers and app downloads. 

The round was led by both private and public investors including Singapore’s GIC, Whale Rock, and Invesco. Current investors Tencent, Dragoneer, Ribbit Capital, and Sequoia also participated in the round. Velez is a former Sequoia partner and is originally from Colombia though he attended Stanford University and worked in the U.S. for many years.

NuBank, based in São Paulo — the financial capital of Latin America and home to 12.8 million people — has expanded to Colombia and Mexico and plans to use the new funding to flesh out its operations in those markets while continuing to build out its product offerings in Brazil.

What started as a credit card company now functions as a full-service bank, minus the cumbersome bank branches, which is one way the company has been able to allocate its funding primarily toward growth.

“People were really done with being mistreated and paying high fees,” said Velez, speaking to Brazil’s notoriously bureaucratic and dreadful banking experience (liken it to going to the DMV, but regularly). Historically, to pay your monthly bills in Brazil, you had to go to a bank branch and wait in line — often outside in the heat — until it was your turn. The lines wrapped around the block like that of an Apple Store upon the release of the latest iPhone.

“It’s like they are doing you a favor by opening an account for you and then charging you 450% interest rate per year,” said Velez. “Our bet was that people would really like to be treated like humans,” he added.

In 1994, when the Brazilian real currency was introduced, it was pegged at 1:1 with the U.S. dollar. However, in recent years, with the country’s largest corruption scandal in history which saw three consecutive presidents jailed, impeached, and incriminated, respectively, the economy has plummeted. And COVID-19 certainly hasn’t helped. The exchange rate is now 1 USD to 5.40 BRL. With low exchange rates in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, a $400 million USD investment creates a sizable runway, especially since Nubank’s Brazil operation has been cash-flow positive since 2018.

The company is known for reaching the unbanked population in Brazil, especially those who simply weren’t in the financial position to get a credit card. Traditional banks are present in about 80% of Brazilian municipalities, but considering that Nubank’s app-based product is location-agnostic, it’s able to reach 100% of the municipalities, the company said. In addition, it’s been helping Brazilians build credit. Its Barney-purple credit card starts at a monthly limit of $50 reals per month (roughly $10 USD). If a customer pays on time the first month, their credit continues to increase over the following months. 

Amongst its slew of products, Nubank also offers a debit card and savings account, and while it doesn’t have branches of its own, money can be withdrawn from network ATM’s, as is common in the U.S.

“Nubank was born out of the conviction that people deserved better, more transparent and human financial services that would allow them to be in control of their money and their future. We started seven years ago in Brazil, a country with one of the most concentrated banking sectors in the world, and we were able to free millions of people of the bureaucracy and the pain. Through technology and human customer service, we were able to have a positive impact on their daily lives,” said Velez.

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

Continue Reading
Comments

Uncategorized

Snowflake latest enterprise company to feel Wall Street’s wrath after good quarter

Published

on

Snowflake reported earnings this week, and the results look strong with revenue more than doubling year-over-year.

However, while the company’s fourth quarter revenue rose 117% to $190.5 million, it apparently wasn’t good enough for investors, who have sent the company’s stock tumbling since it reported Wednesday after the bell.

It was similar to the reaction that Salesforce received from Wall Street last week after it announced a positive earnings report. Snowflake’s stock closed down around 4% today, a recovery compared to its midday lows when it was off nearly 12%.

Why the declines? Wall Street’s reaction to earnings can lean more on what a company will do next more than its most recent results. But Snowflake’s guidance for its current quarter appeared strong as well, with a predicted $195 million to $200 million in revenue, numbers in line with analysts’ expectations.

Sounds good, right? Apparently being in line with analyst expectations isn’t good enough for investors for certain companies. You see, it didn’t exceed the stated expectations, so the results must be bad. I am not sure how meeting expectations is as good as a miss, but there you are.

It’s worth noting of course that tech stocks have taken a beating so far in 2021. And as my colleague Alex Wilhelm reported this morning, that trend only got worse this week. Consider that the tech-heavy Nasdaq is down 11.4% from its 52-week high, so perhaps investors are flogging everyone and Snowflake is merely caught up in the punishment.

Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman pointed out in the earnings call this week that Snowflake is well positioned, something proven by the fact that his company has removed the data limitations of on-prem infrastructure. The beauty of the cloud is limitless resources, and that forces the company to help customers manage consumption instead of usage, an evolution that works in Snowflake’s favor.

“The big change in paradigm is that historically in on-premise data centers, people have to manage capacity. And now they don’t manage capacity anymore, but they need to manage consumption. And that’s a new thing for — not for everybody but for most people — and people that are in the public cloud. I have gotten used to the notion of consumption obviously because it applies equally to the infrastructure clouds,” Slootman said in the earnings call.

Snowflake has to manage expectations, something that translated into a dozen customers paying $5 million or more per month to Snowflake. That’s a nice chunk of change by any measure. It’s also clear that while there is a clear tilt toward the cloud, the amount of data that has been moved there is still a small percentage of overall enterprise workloads, meaning there is lots of growth opportunity for Snowflake.

What’s more, Snowflake executives pointed out that there is a significant ramp up time for customers as they shift data into the Snowflake data lake, but before they push the consumption button. That means that as long as customers continue to move data onto Snowflake’s platform, they will pay more over time, even if it will take time for new clients to get started.

So why is Snowflake’s quarterly percentage growth not expanding? Well, as a company gets to the size of Snowflake, it gets harder to maintain those gaudy percentage growth numbers as the law of large numbers begins to kick in.

I’m not here to tell Wall Street investors how to do their job, anymore than I would expect them to tell me how to do mine. But when you look at the company’s overall financial picture, the amount of untapped cloud potential and the nature of Snowflake’s approach to billing, it’s hard not to be positive about this company’s outlook, regardless of the reaction of investors in the short term.

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

A first look at Coursera’s S-1 filing

Published

on

After TechCrunch broke the news yesterday that Coursera was planning to file its S-1 today, the edtech company officially dropped the document Friday evening.

Coursera was last valued at $2.4 billion by the private markets, when it most recently raised a Series F round in October 2020 that was worth $130 million.

Coursera’s S-1 filing offers a glimpse into the finances of how an edtech company, accelerated by the pandemic, performed over the past year. It paints a picture of growth, albeit one that came at steep expense.

Revenue

In 2020, Coursera saw $293.5 million in revenue. That’s a roughly 59% increase from the year prior when the company recorded $184.4 million in top line. During that same period, Coursera posted a net loss of nearly $67 million, up 46% from the previous year’s $46.7 million net deficit.

Notably the company had roughly the same noncash, share-based compensation expenses in both years. Even if we allow the company to judge its profitability on an adjusted EBITDA basis, Coursera’s losses still rose from 2019 to 2020, expanding from $26.9 million to $39.8 million.

To understand the difference between net losses and adjusted losses it’s worth unpacking the EBITDA acronym. Standing for “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization,” EBITDA strips out some nonoperating costs to give investors a possible better picture of the continuing health of a business, without getting caught up in accounting nuance. Adjusted EBITDA takes the concept one step further, also removing the noncash cost of share-based compensation, and in an even more cheeky move, in this case also deducts “payroll tax expense related to stock-based activities” as well.

For our purposes, even when we grade Coursera’s profitability on a very polite curve it still winds up generating stiff losses. Indeed, the company’s adjusted EBITDA as a percentage of revenue — a way of determining profitability in contrast to revenue — barely improved from a 2019 result of -15% to -14% in 2020.

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

The owner of Anki’s assets plans to relaunch Cozmo and Vector this year

Published

on

Good robots don’t die — they just have their assets sold off to the highest bidder. Digital Dream Labs was there to sweep up IP in the wake of Anki’s premature implosion, back in 2019. The Pittsburgh-based edtech company had initially planned to relaunch Vector and Cozmo at some point in 2020, launching a Kickstarter campaign in March of last year.

The company eventually raised $1.8 million on the crowdfunding site, and today announced plans to deliver on the overdue relaunch, courtesy of a new distributor.

“There is a tremendous demand for these robots,” CEO Jacob Hanchar said in a release. “This partnership will complement the work our teams are already doing to relaunch these products and will ensure that Cozmo and Vector are on shelves for the holidays.”

I don’t doubt that a lot of folks are looking to get their hands on the robots. Cozmo, in particular, was well-received, and sold reasonably well — but ultimately (and in spite of a lot of funding), the company couldn’t avoid the fate that’s befallen many a robotics startup.

It will be fascinating to see how these machines look when they’re reintroduced. Anki invested tremendous resources into bringing them to life, including the hiring of ex-Pixar and DreamWorks staff to make the robots more lifelike. A lot of thought went into giving the robots a distinct personality, whereas, for instance, Vector’s new owners are making the robot open-source. Cozmo, meanwhile, will have programmable functionality through the company’s app.

It could certainly be an interesting play for the STEM market that companies like Sphero are approaching. It has become a fairly crowded space, but at least Anki’s new owners are building on top of a solid foundation, with the fascinating and emotionally complex toy robots their predecessors created.

Continue Reading

Trending