Category Archives: Start-up data

GAFAM do not suffer from the crisis (part II)

Yesterday I published data in Tesla, Google and Facebook do not suffer from the crisis. and after linking my post to the usual Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, one of my readers (thanks Manuel!) told me it would be fun to add Uber as a comparison. I said I would if/when I find the time and then thought why not AirBnB, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft?

I could only compile data about revenues of these firms and I think it is striking enough:

I wrote yerterday the growth rate was above 100% (doubling every year) in the early years declining to around 40% (doubling every other year) then to 15% (doubling evry five-year). Here are the growth rates of these old and new Titans. It begins again with 100+% for all of them. Too early to say about the future of Uber and AirBnB.
The three others of the GAFAM.
– Microsoft even had a 50% growth in its second decade, Amazon was closer to 30% and Apple struggled with 20%.
– In their 4th decade, Microsoft had an average grwoth of 10% and Apple 30%.

OK Manuel?

Tesla, Google and Facebook do not suffer from the crisis.

This may not be surprising and it has been said in the media. The GAFAs have generally benefited from the Covid crisis. So, as I was independantly doing in the recent years, I looked again at the growth of Google and Facebook as well as Tesla.

[As a reference here are past articles:
– Are GAFAs threatened? Their growth is still steady: www.startup-book.com/2019/12/28/are-gafas-threatened-their-growth-is-still-steady/
– Facebook Finally Files For $5B: www.startup-book.com/2012/02/02/facebook-finally-files-for-5b/
– Google vs. Facebook: www.startup-book.com/2010/11/12/google-vs-facebook/]

And here are my udpates abour revenue, income and employee growth of Google, Facebook and Tesla:

Revenues and profits are in millions of $. What is undoubtedly the most striking is the similarity of the growths of the three actors and of course the fact that all these numbers are considerable, not to say extraordinary.

Typical of Silicon Valley startups, the growth is often above 100% in the early years decreasing to about 40% after a few years and still above 15% after 20 years. This means respectively doubling the numbers every year, every two years and every five years.

The largest technology companies in Europe and the USA in 2020

I regularly look at the largest technology companies in the USA and Europe and obviously this year, I had the impact of Covid in mind. Here are the tables I build once a year (and that you could compare to the ones published in January 2020 here or in 2017 here.

I am adding below their PS (price to sales, ratio of market cap to revenues) and PE (price to earnings, ratio of market cap to profits when positive) as well as the growth of the market cap. and revenues. There are 3 new companies I had not studied last year (Airbnb, Paypal and AMD) for which the growth is therefore not mentioned.

There would be many comments to give btu I will be fast:
– The GAFAs are the clear leaders, 4 of them are trillion dollar companies. Facebook is a little surprinsingly not as impressive and Tesla is appearing on top.
– The COVID did not have a big impact, not to say it had a positive impact on technology companies (in financial more than in economic terms)
– Again, looking at averages we see Europe is lagging in market caps, employement, sales and profits by factors close to 10…

The Age of Founders – Again!!

As an interesting coincidence, I was mentioned twice in a few days a recent research about the age of founders:
– Colleagues from IMF – the International Monetary Fund – mentioned to me this morning an article from The Harvard Business Review published in 2018: Research: The Average Age of a Successful Startup Founder Is 45 by Pierre Azoulay, Benjamin F. Jones, J. Daniel Kim, and Javier Miranda.
– Just before Christmas, I had a debate with French economists about the age of founders, and they mentioned to me Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship by Pierre Azoulay, Benjamin F. Jones, J. Daniel Kim, and Javier Miranda.

The same authors, the same messages… In a nutshell: “It’s widely believed that the most successful entrepreneurs are young. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg were in their early twenties when they launched what would become world-changing companies. Do these famous cases reflect a generalizable pattern? […] Our team analyzed the age of all business founders in the U.S. in recent years by leveraging confidential administrative data sets from the U.S. Census Bureau. We found that the average age of entrepreneurs at the time they founded their companies is 42. […] But what about the most successful startups? Is it possible that companies started by younger entrepreneurs are particularly successful? Among the top 0.1% of startups based on growth in their first five years, we find that the founders started their companies, on average, when they were 45 years old. […] These averages, however, hide a large amount of variation across industries. In software startups, the average age is 40, and younger founders aren’t uncommon. However, young people are less common in other industries such as oil and gas or biotechnology, where the average age is closer to 47. […] In light of this evidence, why do some VCs persist in betting on young founders? We cannot definitively answer this question with the data at our disposal, but we believe that two mechanisms could be at play. First, many VCs may operate under a mistaken belief that youth is the elixir of successful entrepreneurship — in other words, VCs are simply wrong. Though it is tempting to see age bias as the leading explanation for the divergence between our findings and investor behavior, there is a more benign possibility: VCs are not simply looking to identify the firms with the highest growth potential. Rather, they may seek investments that will yield the highest returns, and it is possible that young founders are more financially constrained than more experienced ones, leading them to cede upside to investors at a lower price. In other words, younger entrepreneurs may be a better “deal” for investors than more experienced founders.”

The age of founders has been an interesting topic here as you may check with tag #age. In particular I wrote
Data about equity of 600 startups in April 2020
The Age of Founders of Start-ups – Again! in April 2019
Age and Experience of High-tech Entrepreneurs in June 2014

What you will find in common between this recent research and my posts is that there is variation with the field. I am not sure this new research looks at the first entrepreneurial activity and it would make sense as their emphasis is towards experience. I also had different answers about the impact in value creation in my research with this striking illustration:

All this drives me to a second line of thinking:
– the importance of creativity: check #creativity.
– the importance of experience: I had a piece of research with strange results many years ago about serial entrepreneurs. The end result my be counterintuitive. Check #serial entrepreneur

I will not really conclude but say in the end it depends… except by mentioning Galenson‘s work about conceptual and experimental innovators: “Experimental innovators work by trial and error, and arrive at their major contributions gradually, late in life. In contrast, conceptual innovators make sudden breakthroughs by formulating new ideas, usually at an early age. […] Experimental innovators seek, and conceptual innovators find.” from Old Masters and Young Geniuses. This could be an answer to the authors’ question on the choice of VCs: they would be looking for conceptual innovators.

A major update : data about 700+ startups

I regularly compile data about startups, mostly when they file to go public, when I can use their IPO prospectus (typically S-1 or 424B4 documents on Nasdaq). Thanks to a rush of IPOs this year (despite the covid) but also by revisiting older filings thanks to Jay Ritter great database of 11000+ IPOs since 1975, I could recently increase my own (much smaller) database of cap tables to 716 former technology startups (from 600 startups last April). This is a 20% or so increase, so it is quite a major update. Here is the document of all individual cap. tables:
Equity List – Lebret – Nov2020

You may prefer to download the pdf. And before reading the rest of the post, you may be interested in the analysis of the 600 startups last April : Updated data in equity of 600 (former) startups.

I will not go into the details of the data analysis, which would no doubt be similar to the 600 startups of last April. You can find the new stats beginning page 729 of the pdf. The evolution of the figures by period of 5 years is striking. It undoubtedly shows in part the evolution of the importance of technology but also the influence of venture capital in growth strategies. For better or for worse as I said in my previous article and as Philippe Labouchère said very well in Le Temps: These mega-investments that distort reality (Ces méga-investissements qui déforment la réalité).

Don’t be misled by the drop in the 2015 period. These very young companies who filed to go public are mostly biotech companies which have sligthly different dynamics. The IT companies which will file in the next years will be interesting to analyze: we’ll see if the trend continues or collapses…

One final element. Out of the 716 companies, 274 have been acquired and 383 are still public. The average M&A value is $3B and the median is $600M (remember the statistics of startups are not gaussian but follow a power law, a kind of “winner takes all” situation). Here is the list of the main acquirers:

Covid-19 Startups : BioNTech and Moderna

Yesterday I posted about Airbnb IPO filing here and in a few weeks or months I will update my 600-startup cap. tables to 700. A major upgrade. In the mean time, even if I am not a specialist at all of biotechnology I study some startups of the field from time to time. You can check the tag #biotech for example or a post about Crispr startups. It would have been difficult not to notice recently two other startups which went public recently, Moderna in 2018 and BioNTech in 2019, because of Covid19. Look at their recent stock history when they annouced a vaccine against the virus:

Maybe have a quick look at their cap. table below but first some comments: Moderna had been founded in the Boston area in 2009 and BioNTech in Germany in 2008. Their revenues (and losses) were large at time of filing. A lot of venture capital (which owns 60% of both startups), many employees. Not young founders (46 and 60 at Moderna, 41, 43 and 64 at BioNTech). You can add any comment you want, if any…

In reality, these figures are not that different from those of the giants of the digital world in yesterday’s post, except one maybe, the founders’ age.

Airbnb files to go public – the last giant?

Airbnb just filed to go public. Finally! It maybe the last IPO of the recent giants (and not the latest only), these giants which emerged in the 21st century, such as

and of course is the cap.table, not that far from what I had tried to guess in 2017 in www.startup-book.com/2017/03/13/what-is-the-equity-structure-of-uber-and-airbnb/

The Microchip Revolution (Appendix) – Intersil

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was a little desperate to find specific information about Intersil that would allow me to illustrate its shareholding when it went public.

You can skip this very anecdotal narrative which is probably above all an archive for me, but which also shows that you always have to persevere. Note that each country has a register of companies, more or less rich in information, sometimes for a fee, sometimes free. In the USA, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC – www.sec.gov) provides access to all documents about public companies (i.e. listed on a stock exchange). In contrast, private companies (not listed on a stock exchange) are not obliged to publish any information, especially financial. (And I would add that Private Equity – of which venture capital is a part – only finances private companies, i.e. unlisted).

The SEC provides a service – EDGAR – free of charge for all documents published up to the mid-1990s, 1996 to be precise, I think. The SEC sold the pre-1996 documents for around $40-60 and then handed the service over to Thomson Reuters (then Refinitiv) a few years later – a privatization of “public service” and the price rose to $80 then $120-140 per document…

On October 4, I contacted Thomson Reuters asking for the IPO prospectuses of IDT, Lam Research and Intersil.

While I got the first two almost immediately, on October 7 I got a question as an answer for Intersil that asked me to choose a document from the following table:

The question was unsettling because Intersil was not Harris and I wanted a document dated 1972. There should not have been earlier documents.

Intersil was founded in 1967, went public in 1972 and was reportedly acquired in 1981 by General Electric (GE) and in 1988 by Harris (that’s it!) which combined Intersil with units from RCA and GE. In 1999, Harris made Intersil a spin-off which went public again in 2000… In 2017, Japanese company Renesas bought Intersil.

In explaining this situation to the SEC, a second research led them to offer me these documents:

Buying 2 documents at that price made me hesitant. So I needed more information. I contacted individuals:
– Christophe Lecuyer, author of Making Silicon Valley, Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970
– David Fullagar, formerly at Intersil,
– Michelle Lowry at Drexel University,
– Josh Lerner and Paul Gompers at Harvard University,
– Jay Ritter at University of Florida,
as well as institutions:
– The Computer History Museum in San Jose, CA (https://computerhistory.org/)
– The libraries of Stanford University, Harvard University
– The WRDS service at Wharton (Wharton Research Data Services), the business school of the university of Pennsylvania

Most answered even if they had no information. This is the American culture: people try to help, often by giving new names or leads. I must in particular thank Jay Ritter who wrote back immediately: “My records have Intersil going public on Jan 20, 1972 at $14 per share. The first market close may have been $12.00. But I have less information about this company than most IPOs from 1972.” then later “In another file I found that it had ticker ISIL, listed on Nasdaq, might have been a General Electric spinoff, but was VC-financed with Diebold Venture Capital Corp., RCA Corp., Sutter Hill Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Mayfield II, Citicorp Venture Capital, and Small Business Enterprises (Bank America) as investors, Bache was the lead underwriter, and sold 360,000 shares at $14 per share (352,000 newly issued, with 8,000 from selling shareholders).”

Interestingly there are mixed information about 2 different IPOs not to say companies. But I had my date! January 20, 1972.

On October 11, I could contact again Refinitiv and my contact answered “Please allow at least 2-3 hours for this process.” The next day, “They need to scan the microfiche for the document of Intersil. [But] it seems that they are having trouble on finding it.” And the next day, I finally had it which made possible the next table:

Remember Bauer and Wilder have dedicated their book to Jean Hoerni : “This book is dedicated to Jean Hoerni, the inventor of the planar process; without which none of this would have been possible. Hoerni became an entrepreneur and owned about a quarter of Intersil IPO. This is uncommon and huge for a founder. You my not know the investors, this was the sixties. But Arthur Rock is a legend (an investor in Intel, Apple – see my next post!) and Fred Adler is also famous, though to a lesser extent. These were the early days of startups and venture capital, but fundamentally, everything was being invented then and the rules are pretty much the same today.

A Fury of Software IPO Filings

After many, many IPO filings from biotech startups in 2020 (I counted 20 out of the 43 I followed and made cap. tables of), the end of August had 8 filings from Software companies (and only 15 in total). I do not think there is any rational here (except maybe Palantir as a trigger), but I decided to have a look at these 8 companies.

These are
BigCommerce (Australia)
Palantir Technologies (see my previous post here)
Asana, Sumo Logic, SnowFlake (Silicon Valley)
Unity Software (Denmark), Jfrog Ltd (Israel)
AmWell (Boston)

You can have a look at some cap. tables in the pdf (pages 633, 636-42) but more than the individual data (also below at the end), it is the (limited) stats which I find interesting:

The data deserve some explanation and also deserve to be compared with the averages of the more than 600 startups studied in the pdf (pages 644-659).

These “young” startups took 12 years to go public, this is much more than in the (recent) past and they used amazing amounts of venture capital, in the hundreds of millions. Even the series A, the 1st round, is huge, about $10M. Their sales are big too (more than $100M for all of them) with a mediam value of $150M. Their losses are not small with a median value of $100M…

Now If we look at shareholding, investors own about 45% of the company, not more than in the past (despite the huge fund raising), IPO shares are pretty small (about 4%). Common shares (mostly employees) is about 35% and you should also notice that these startups have hundreds not to say thousands of employees. As a side comment non-founding CEOs are not the norm and have about 3.5% of the company (CFOs have about 0.7%)

The founders keep about 14%. They are about 2 per company, with a median age of 35 (mean is 33 so slightly lower than the overall 38.

I think all this is pretty interesting and feel free to have a look at overall stats in my post earlier this year: data about equity in 600+ startups.

Equity List August2020

 

Palantir files to go public

I am not sure this was worth a post as there is nothing really surprising with Palantir IPO filing that can be found here on the NASDAQ website. Still, this is Palantir, the secretive software company cofounded by Peter Thiel, Alexander Karp & Stephen Cohen (as well as Joe Lonsdale and Nathan Gettings)


Thiel, Karp, Lonsdale & Cohen (Gettings cannot be found online)

So I did my favorite exercise, building a tentative cap. table. Here it is:

What are the striking facts: the high level of sales, losses and fund raising. The startup, neither its founders are not young anymore… That’s it. Or feel free to comment!