All posts in “transport”

Pinterest prices IPO above range

Pinterest priced shares of its stock, “PINS,” above its anticipated range on Wednesday evening, CNBC reports. The company will sell 75 million shares of Class A common stock at $19 apiece in an offering that will attract $1.4 billion in new capital for the visual search engine.

The NYSE-listed business had planned to sell its shares at between $15 to $17 and didn’t increase the size of its planned offering prior to Wednesday’s pricing.

Valued at $12.3 billion in 2017, the initial public offering gives Pinterest a fully diluted market cap of $12.6 billion.

The IPO has been a long time coming for the nearly 10-year-old company led by co-founder and chief executive officer Ben Silbermann . Given Wall Street’s lackluster demand for ride-hailing company Lyft, another consumer technology stock that recently made its Nasdaq debut, it’s unclear just how well Pinterest will perform in the days, weeks, months and years to come. Pinterest is unprofitable like its fellow unicorns Lyft and Uber, but its financials, disclosed in its IPO prospectus, illustrate a clear path to profitability. As for Lyft and Uber, Wall Street analysts, among others, still question whether either of the businesses will ever achieve profitability.

Eric Kim of consumer tech investment firm Goodwater Capital says despite the fact that Pinterest and Lyft are very different companies, Lyft’s falling stock has undoubtedly impacted Pinterest’s offering.

“They are so close together, it’s hard for those not to influence one another,” Kim told TechCrunch. “It’s a much different category, but they are still both consumer tech and they will both be trading at a double-digital revenue multiple.

The San Francisco-based company posted revenue of $755.9 million in the year ending December 31, 2018 — 16 times less than its latest decacorn valuation — on losses of $62.9 million. That’s up from $472.8 million in revenue in 2017 on losses of $130 million.

The stock offering represents a big liquidity event for a handful of investors. Pinterest had raised a modest $1.47 billion in equity funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, which holds a 13.1 percent pre-IPO stake, FirstMark Capital (9.8 percent), Andreessen Horowitz (9.6 percent), Fidelity Investments (7.1 percent) and Valiant Capital Partners (6 percent). Bessemer’s stake is worth upwards of $1 billion. FirstMark and a16z’s shares will be worth more than $700 million each.

Zoom — another tech company going public on Thursday that, unlike its peers, is actually profitable — priced its shares on Wednesday too after increasing the price range of its IPO earlier this week. The price values Zoom at roughly $9 billion, nearly surpassing Pinterest, an impressive feat considering Zoom was last valued at $1 billion in 2017 around when Pinterest’s Series H valued it at a whopping $12.3 billion.

Profitability, as it turns out, may mean more to Wall Street than Silicon Valley thinks.

YC alum Keeper raises $1.6M to help gig workers pay taxes

Every year around this time, Uber drivers, Wag dog walkers, Bird scooter chargers, social media influencers and other gig economy workers face the unsightly challenge of paying their taxes.

Companies like Uber and Lyft classify their drivers as independent contractors, which means you aren’t given any benefits and the company doesn’t withhold any of your taxes. This puts gig workers in a tough position come tax day, especially if they aren’t prepared to shell out big sums to the IRS.

Keeper, a startup that’s just graduated from the Y Combinator startup accelerator, is here to make taxes a lot easier for that demographic and to save them as much money as possible.

Founded by childhood buddies and former debate partners Paul Koullick and David Kang, the San Francisco-based company has raised $1.65 million on a $10 million valuation in a round led by Jake Jolis of Matrix Partners.

Keeper co-founders Paul Koullick (left) and David Kang

The pair entered YC this winter with a big idea and little to show for it. Come March, they had developed a full-fledged product and accumulated 200 paying customers. With their first round of funding, they plan to add to their small but growing team and acquire 10,000 customers in the next 18 months.

“There are some companies that are trying to go very broad and trying to cover the whole spectrum of benefits; we’re just trying to go really deep on taxes,” Kang told TechCrunch. “This is a pain point. This is where people are definitely leaving the most money on the table.”

Keeper guesses the average gig worker in the U.S. is overpaying their taxes by more than 20 percent, or about $1,550 for those making more than $25,000 per year. Why? Because these independent contractors aren’t claiming the tax write-offs available to them, like phone bills, car maintenance fees and even a Spotify subscription for drivers.

“If you’re a dog walker, there are so many things you need to be writing off, like your poop bags, your extra leashes, your parking,” Koullick told TechCrunch. “This population needs the guidance of an accountant, but they can’t afford one and we’re trying to create this third option.”

Like a personal accountant, Keeper monitors gig workers’ expenses all year in search of possible tax deductions, saving each user $173 per month on average, it estimates. The startup uses Plaid to follow its customers’ transaction history, and once per day sends a text message asking if there are any tax write-offs to note. Over time, it gets smarter and smarter, keeping the SMS questions to a minimum.

Keeper doesn’t fully file taxes for 1099 workers yet, but will begin offering a quarterly tax filing service in June. Next year, it plans to offer a full-year tax-filing service.

Koullick, Keeper’s chief executive officer, worked in product at Square before joining another startup, called Stride, where he built and scaled Stride Tax, a mileage and expense-tracking app. Kang, for his part, has spent most of his post-graduate career at a trading firm in Chicago, focused on quantitative modeling. The two toyed with a few startup ideas before landing on Keeper’s tax business.

“We wanted to build something that actually mattered to real people,” Koullick explained. “And we wanted to do it in the financial space where we were happy to wade through ugly details and systems on their behalf.”

Keeper isn’t the only recent YC alum focused on the growing gig economy. Another, Catch, sells health insurance, retirement savings plans and tax-withholding services directly to freelancers, contractors or anyone uncovered. Given the rapid rise of Uber and other gig platforms, it’s no wonder YC startups are tapping into the various business opportunities available there.

“We’re willing to tackle some of these topics that are kind of boring and mundane and really intensive,” Kang added. “Like the average person doesn’t want to think about taxes or filling out forms. We saw that as an opportunity for us to step in and be like, hey, we’ll take it.”

Equity Shot: A deep dive into the Uber S-1

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

It’s time for another Equity Shot, a quick-take episode centered around a breaking news event. This time, as you already guessed, Kate Clark and I sat down to dig into the Uber S-1. It’s a huge, complex document, but we did our best to summarize what’s inside.

First, we talked through yearly results, looking back a half-decade into Uber’s revenue growth. In the filing, Uber reported 2018 revenues of $11.27 billion, net income of $997 million and adjusted EBITDA losses of $1.85 million. We highlighted those numbers, talked about operating losses and the company’s gyrating net results that included the positive impacts of various divestitures.

Yes, this S-1 required a bit more unpacking than most. We apologize for the frantic scrolling, we were pouring through the document live and we were a bit excited. This is an IPO that’s been talked about for years and will be easily one of the largest floats of all time.

Anyway, an S-1 brings insights to more than just a company’s financials, so we spent time highlighting key stakeholders, or, in other words, the people are are going to get really really really rich off Uber’s IPO. That includes Uber co-founder and chief executive officer Travis Kalanick, famous venture capital firms like the SoftBank Vision Fund and Benchmark, and more.

The IPO, remember, is expected to sell $10 billion in stock (primary and secondary) and value the company at $100 billion or more.

If 30 minutes digging through the S-1 wasn’t enough for you, don’t fret, we’ll be following the Uber IPO for weeks — probably months — to come.

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

Equity Shot: Lyft is public — what does that mean for other IPO-ready unicorns?

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

Sure, we just aired a new episode, but things keep happening, and after talking about this crop of IPOs for so long, we can’t help ourselves. (You can follow us on Twitter, here and here, by the way, if Equity isn’t enough for you.)

Lyft, as you know, started trading today, closing the loop on a long saga that brought the smaller of the two domestic ride-hailing unicorns to the public markets.

After so much speculation about which of the two would get out the door first, Lyft did, and now we get to see what sort of pricing shenanigans happen next. Does Uber drop rates and punish Lyft? Or does Uber work to cut its losses, lowering its expenses and providing a clearer path toward profitability before its April IPO roadshow kicks off? (Not a path to profitability, mind; Uber and Lyft need to show a path to the direction of profitability first.)

We hit all the bases, going over the company’s pricing path, its varying share figures, final raise metrics and more. If you want the hard stuff, we’ve got a shot for you.

Now that the Lyft IPO has wrapped, we’ll be shifting our focus to Pinterest, Zoom and, of course, Uber. Stay tuned.

OK, now we’re done. Until next Friday. Unless something else happens.

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

Lidar and perception startup Innoviz raises $132 million

Innoviz, the Israel-based startup developing solid-state lidar sensors and perception software for autonomous vehicles, has raised $132 million in a Series C funding round that includes major Chinese financial institutions.

The round, which makes Innoviz one of the better capitalized lidar startups, includes China Merchants Capital (SINO-BLR Industrial Investment Fund, L.P.), Shenzhen Capital Group and New Alliance Capital. Israeli institutional investors Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services and Phoenix Insurance Company also participated. 

The Series C round will remain open for a second closing to be announced in the coming months, the company said.

Lidar measures distance using laser light to generate highly accurate 3D maps of the world around the car. It’s considered by most in the self-driving car industry a key piece of technology required to safely deploy robotaxis and other autonomous vehicles. Innoviz is developing solid-state lidar, which proponents of this technology say is more reliable over time because of the lack of moving parts.

Like so many startups with fresh capital, Innoviz plans to use the funds to scale up the company.

For Innoviz, this means increasing production of its lidar sensors and expanding its manufacturing capacity. Innoviz is focused on expanding in important automotive markets, including the U.S., Europe, Japan and China. Innoviz has been pushing into China over the past year through a partnership with the Chinese automotive supplier HiRain Technologies, a global supplier to some of China’s largest automakers.

That company has half of its business coming from China and has won nine of its supplier agreements with different automakers in the country through its HiRain partnership, according to people with knowledge of the company.

The company’s aim is to enable high-volume delivery of its automotive-grade lidar system called InnovizOne. This product can be produced and sold at a 90 percent lower cost than its first-generation system, according to Innoviz. 

Innoviz said it also plans to expand its research and development efforts by investing in the buildout of next-generation products and software that will feature more cost reductions and improved performance.

Innoviz’s strategy has been to partner with a number of OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers such as Magna, HARMAN, HiRain Technologies and Aptiv and to package perception software with its lidar sensors and offer it as a complete unit for companies developing autonomous vehicle technology.

Innoviz has locked in several key customers, notably BMW. The automaker picked Innoviz’s tech for series production of autonomous vehicles starting in 2021.

In March, Lyft announced a partnership with Magna to help get its self-driving tech into various automakers, as well as implement the ride-hailing service into future autonomous cars. Innoviz raised $65 million in Series B funding in 2017, from strategic partners and leading auto industry suppliers Delphi Automotive and Magna International, along with other investors.