Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startup and market newsletter. It is largely based on the daily column that appears on Extra Crunch, but free, and made for your weekend reading. Want it in your inbox every Saturday? Register here.
Ready? Let’s talk about money, startups, and spicy IPO rumors.
Bet on the upcoming startup markets
This week, M25, a venture capital firm focused on investing in the Midwestern United States, announced the creation of a new fund worth $ 31.8 million. As the firm noted in a statement The Exchange reviewed, its new fund is about three times the size of its previous investment vehicle.
I caught up with partner M25 Mike Asem to discuss the round. Asem joined M25 in 2016 after being a partner Victor gutwein led the effort with a small fund of $ 1 million. Asem and Gutwein run the firm from its first material, if technically the second fund.
Asem said his team targeted a fund of $ 25 million to $ 30 million three, which means they were a bit higher than expected in terms of fundraising. This is no surprise in today’s venture capital market, given the pace at which capital is being invested in both venture capital funds and startups.
The investor told the Exchange that M25 has been investing since its third fund for some time, including CASHDROP, a startup that I have heard good things about its growth rate. (More info here about the CASHDROP round in which M25 invested capital.)
All this is good, but what makes the M25 an interesting bet is that the company only invests in startups headquartered in the Midwest. Often when I talk to a fund that has a unique geographic focus, that’s just that, a goal. Unlike the harder and faster rule of M25. Now with more capital and plans to participate in 12 to 15 transactions per year, the group can double its thesis.
According to Asem, M25 has done about a third of its transactions in Chicago, where it is based, but has invested capital in startups in 24 cities so far. TechCrunch covered one such firm, Metafy, earlier this week when it closed more than $ 5 million in new capital.
Why does M25 think the Midwest is the perfect place to deploy capital and generate outsized returns? Asem listed a number of perspectives underpinning his team’s thesis: the economic powerhouse of the Midwest, the network he and his partner developed in the region prior to founding M25, and the fact that assessments can s’ prove to be more attractive in the region at the stage where his firm invests. They are different enough, he said, that his company can generate material returns even with exits around $ 100 million, a lower threshold than most VCs with larger investment vehicles. might find acceptable.
M25 is not the only one to bet on alternative regions. The Bourse also discussed with Somak Chattopadhyay from Armory Square Ventures Friday, a company based in upstate New York that invests in B2B software companies in what we might call post-manufacturing cities. One of its investments has gone public and the group’s last fund is a multiple of the size of its first. The Armory now has around $ 60 million in AUM.
All of this to say that the venture capital boom isn’t just helping companies like a16z raise another billion here, or another billion there. But the generally hot market for startups and private capital is helping even small businesses raise more capital to occupy less traditional spaces. It’s encouraging.
On-demand pricing and insurance play
This week, the exchange spoke with Twilio’s chief financial officer, Khozema Shipchandler, about his company’s earnings report. You can read more about the concrete numbers here. In short, it was a good quarter. But what mattered most to our discussion was Shipchandler who determined where Twilio’s center of gravity will stay. returned terms.
In short, Twilio is best known for creating APIs that allow developers to operate telecommunications services. These developers and their employers pay Twilio as much as they use. But over time, Twilio bought more and more companies, creating a diverse product set after its IPO in the 2016 era.
So we were curious: where does the company fit into the on-demand pricing debate versus SaaS that’s currently raging in the software world? Still in the first camp, despite the purchase of Segment, which is a SaaS service. Per Shipchandler, Twilio’s revenue is still over 70% on demand, and the company wants to ensure that its customers only buy more of its services as they sell more of theirs. .
So startups probably don’t have to give up on-demand pricing as they scale. Twilio is huge and sticks to it!
Then there was the Root revenue report. Again, here are the basic numbers. The Exchange keeps tabs on Root’s post-IPO performance not only because it was a company that we have followed extensively in its late private life, but also because it is an indicator in some way. sort for still private neoinsurane companies. Which matters to his compatriot Hippo, as it is made public via a SPAC.
Alex Timm, CEO of Root, said his business performed well in the first quarter, generating more direct written premiums than expected and better loss rates to boot. The company also remains very cash-rich after the IPO, and Timm is convinced that his company’s data science work has much more room to improve Root’s underwriting models.
So faster-than-expected growth, plenty of cash, an improved economy, and upbeat technology – Root’s stock flies, doesn’t it? No, this is not the case. Instead, Root has taken a bit of a hammer in the public market in recent months. The Stock Exchange asked Timm about the disparity between how he views the performance and future of his business and how it is rated. He said the insurance people don’t always make his technology work, and the tech people don’t always get Root’s insurance business.
It’s hard. But with years and years of money at his current burn rate, Root has more than enough room to prove his critics wrong, provided his modeling holds up over the next twelve quarters. Its stock price cannot be awesome for neoinsurance companies that are still private. Even though Next Insurance was just lifting another stranglehold on cash at another new higher valuation.
Big business spending week
As you read now, Bill.com is buying the Divvy Unicorn for $ 2.5 billion. I’ve dug into the numbers behind the deal here, if that’s your type of thing.
But after collecting the CEO notes of Divvy Ramp and Brex’s competitors here, another comment came up that I wanted to share. Thejo Kote, the CEO and founder of corporate spending startup Airbase made calculations on Divvy results that Bill.com shared with its own investors, arguing that the company’s March payout volume and account active customer imply that “the average volume of spending per customer was $ 44,400 per month. . “
Is it good or bad? Kote is unimpressed, stating that “Airbase’s average spend volume per customer is nearly 10 [times] that of Divvy ”, or approximately“ $ 375,000 per month ”. What makes this difference? The focus on bigger customers and the fact that Airbase covers more ground, according to Kote, than Divvy by encompassing the software work that Bill.com itself and Expensify handle.
I bring all of this to you as the war over expense management for businesses large and small intensifies in terms of software. With Divvy off the table, Ramp is now perhaps the biggest player in the space not to charge for the software he wraps around corporate cards. Brex recently launched software that it charges on a recurring basis. (More information on Brex on this link, if you’re there.)
Miscellaneous and miscellaneous
Two final notes for you, things that should make you laugh, wince or howl:
- the Eliot Brown of the Wall Street Journal tweeted some data this week from the Financial Times, that of the roughly 40 PSPCs that made deals last year, a dozen and a half have lost more than half of their value. And that the average drop among the combined entities is 38%. Weft.
- And finally, welcome for any pic.
More to come next week, including notes on the return of Kaltura and Procore IPOs, and whatever it is we can pull from the Krispy Kreme S-1 filing, because donuts are life.