Startups Weekly: Will Trump ruin the unicorn IPOs of our dreams?

The government shutdown entered its 21st day on Friday, upping concerns of potentially long-lasting impacts on the U.S. stock market. Private market investors around the country applauded when Uber finally filed documents with the SEC to go public. Others were giddy to hear Lyft, Pinterest, Postmates and Slack (via a direct listing, according to the latest reports) were likely to IPO in 2019, too.

Unfortunately, floats that seemed imminent may not actually surface until the second half of 2019 — that is unless President Donald Trump and other political leaders are able to reach an agreement on the federal budget ASAP.  This week, we explored the government’s shutdown’s connection to tech IPOs, recounted the demise of a well-funded AR project and introduced readers to an AI-enabled self-checkout shopping cart.

1. Postmates gets pre-IPO cash

The company, an early entrant to the billion-dollar food delivery wars, raised what will likely be its last round of private capital. The $100 million cash infusion was led by BlackRock and valued Postmates at $1.85 billion, up from the $1.2 billion valuation it garnered with its unicorn round in 2018.

2. Uber’s IPO may not be as eye-popping as we expected

To be fair, I don’t think many of us really believed the ride-hailing giant could debut with a $120 billion initial market cap. And can speculate on Uber’s valuation for days (the latest reports estimate a $90 billion IPO), but ultimately Wall Street will determine just how high Uber will fly. For now, all we can do is sit and wait for the company to relinquish its S-1 to the masses.

3. Deal of the week

N26, a German fintech startup, raised $300 million in a round led by Insight Venture Partners at a $2.7 billion valuation. TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet spoke with co-founder and CEO Valentin Stalf about the company’s global investors, financials and what the future holds for N26.

4. On the market

Bird is in the process of raising an additional $300 million on a flat pre-money valuation of $2 billion. The e-scooter startup has already raised a ton of capital in a very short time and a fresh financing would come at a time when many investors are losing faith in scooter startups’ claims to be the solution to the problem of last-mile transportation, as companies in the space display poor unit economics, faulty batteries and a general air of undependability. Plus, Aurora, the developer of a full-stack self-driving software system for automobile manufacturers, is raising at least $500 million in equity funding at more than a $2 billion valuation in a round expected to be led by new investor Sequoia Capital.


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5. A unicorn’s deal downsizes

WeWork, a co-working giant backed with billions, had planned on securing a $16 billion investment from existing backer SoftBank . Well, that’s not exactly what happened. And, oh yeah, they rebranded.

6. A startup collapses

After 20 long years, augmented reality glasses pioneer ODG has been left with just a skeleton crew after acquisition deals from Facebook and Magic Leap fell through. Here’s a story of a startup with $58 million in venture capital backing that failed to deliver on its promises.

7. Data point

Seed activity for U.S. startups has declined for the fourth straight year, as median deal sizes increased at every stage of venture capital.

8. Meanwhile, in startup land…

This week edtech startup Emeritus, a U.S.-Indian company that partners with universities to offer digital courses, landed a $40 million Series C round led by Sequoia India. Badi, which uses an algorithm to help millennials find roommates, brought in a $30 million Series B led by Goodwater Capital. And Mr Jeff, an on-demand laundry service startup, bagged a $12 million Series A.

9. Finally, Meet Caper, the AI self-checkout shopping cart

The startup, which makes a shopping cart with a built-in barcode scanner and credit card swiper, has revealed a total of $3 million, including a $2.15 million seed round led by First Round Capital .

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Valentin Stalf to talk about scaling N26 at Disrupt Berlin

We couldn’t put together a conference in Berlin without inviting Valentin Stalf from N26, the co-founder and CEO of one of Europe’s most promising startups.

A few years ago, few people would have bet on a startup creating a bank from scratch. N26 now has over 1.5 million clients and a ton of funding.

N26 originally launched at TechCrunch Disrupt London back in 2014. The company didn’t win the Startup Battlefield. At the time, the company was called Number26 and they had 0 client. It was probably too early and too risky for our panel of judges. But we wanted to bet on them and give them some stage time.

I’ve covered N26 relentlessly over the years. They let me test the product back when everything was in German. They’re now available all around Europe (including the U.K.). And it always feels great when Startup Battlefield companies graduate and come back to Disrupt as regular speakers.

But N26 also faces a lot of scrutiny — all eyes are on that young company that wants to manage your money. N26 isn’t the only challenger bank either. It’s still fine for now as they’re all converting customers from traditional banks. But at some point, they’ll compete directly with each other.

Up next, N26 wants to expand to the U.S. It’s an interesting market as it’s highly fragmented with inconsistent regulation across all 50 states. And let’s be honest, American banks suck. They’re riddle with fees and a bad customer experience.

If you want to hear how Stalf plans to go to the next level, come to Disrupt Berlin. The conference will take place on November 29-30 and you can buy your ticket right now.

In addition to fireside chats and panels, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield Europe to win the highly coveted Battlefield cup.

Valentin Stalf

CEO & Co-founder, N26

Born in Vienna, Valentin studied Accounting & Finance (M.A. HSG) at the University of St. Gallen, Sophia University in Tokyo and the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. During his studies he worked in a number of fields including Strategy Consulting and Investment Banking/Mergers & Acquisition. Before he founded N26 together with Maximilian Tayenthal, he was with the Internet Incubator Rocket Internet as Entrepreneur in Residence and involved in building different companies

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