Thanks for the amazing feedback on last week’s chart drop. We’re experimenting with length and breadth. Slightly more to read this week. Comments are open for you to discuss with other members, building on the success of our Friday discussions. Would you like to see these charts follow specific themes each week or should we keep the style the same as previous editions?
A celebratory week for tech startups
Three of the largest tech IPOs in history took place in 2020, two alone last week. Via CNBC
Airbnb’s Series A fund-raising round in 2010 valued it at $60mn. Ten years later, it’s worth $100bn. It is an incredible rise in value, represented 100%-or-so annualised average increase. But that IPO spike is also a signal of an inefficient market, massive value lost of Airbnb’s shareholders and huge, painless, grifty gains for bankers’ favourite clients. Via New York Times
Patience and IPOs
Airbnb was one of the big winners from the Y Combinator accelerator programme, alongside Doordash (which also IPO’d last week). Airbnb joined YC in January 2009, showing how tough the accelerator business is – and how much patience is required. Good discussion at CrunchBase.
The next big IPO?
Waiting in the wings is TikTok. The social media app is expected to hit a billion users in 2021, which represents a three-fold increase in users since 2018. ByteDance, TikTok’s owner, plans to IPO the short-video thing. The weird graph belies the reality that Tiktok got to a billion MAU in half the time of Facebook or Instagram. Via Tubefilter
The year of the SPAC
Special-purpose acquisition companies or SPACs have had an incredible year. These publicly traded shell companies are used to merge or acquire another company and have been around since the 1980s. They have ballooned in 2020 as a vehicle for private entities to enter public equity markets. Particularly popular for taking exponential age companies public, SPACs have recently acquired Desktop Metal (additive manufacturing), Clover Health (healthcare) and OpenDoor (real estate broking and lending). Via Tracy Alloway
Speedbumps on the Belt and Road…
China’s vaulted Belt and Road Initiative, which was touted to remake the global economy with all roads leading to Beijing, is running out of steam. The grand project could end up leading to China’s first overseas debt crisis, and the effects across emerging markets will be powerful. Is the BRI a pipe dream and attention is moving elsewhere? Or is Beijing playing the long game? Via FT
...but tradewinds for Chinese freight hubs
China’s dominance of the global shipping sector is no surprise but look at the growth in Dutch ports like Rotterdam. Via Statista Infographics
Fits and starts in the global economic recovery
Rising infections and renewed lockdowns have created a major challenge for the global economic recovery. Via IHS Markit
Cash is still king?
Despite the banner year for tech IPOs (see above), cash remains king for many US investors. Via Isabelnet_SA
US airlines shed jobs as aid dries up
As soon as funding and provisions ended from the CARES Act, which was the largest economic stimulus in American history, US airlines began shedding jobs at a blistering rate. Via FreightWaves
Declining union power, rising concentrated wealth in the US
Robert Reich notes that the share of national income going to the richest 10 per cent of Americans was lowest when union membership was strongest in the 1950s. A compelling look at America’s inequality matrix. Via Robert Reich
The water cooler makes money
From Ethan Mollick on Twitter: “A downside of remote work is that we can't casually learn from each other the way we could in an office. The effects of such interactions are huge: Lunch meetings between two salespeople where they discussed sales approach boosted revenues for both by 24% for months after!”
It’s in the water
Remarkable levels of Sars-CoV-2 found in wastewater in the Boston area through early December suggest a rise in the spread of the disease (via Joseph Allen). Wastewater is proving a very useful signal in detecting contagions and I expect that over coming years we’ll regularly monitor water streams for anomalies and novelties as part of early warning systems. (Wastewater sampling has become increasingly common since the pandemic. The first studies I came across were the Barcelona & Villereal and Paris ones from April.)
- 🎧 Podcast with Y Combinator’s former president Sam Altman.
- 🎧 Podcast with Chamath Palihapitiya, investor and CEO of Social Capital, on why SPACs are such a necessary innovation in the capital markets.
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