Archive for July, 2021

Unicorns are ready for a haircut

The digitization of your haircut may not have been on your 2020 bucket list, but 2021 has an even more surprising line item: Tech-powered barbershops are now a business proposition valued at nearly a billion dollars. Squire is a back-end barbershop management tool for independent businesses. I first covered it in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The startup raised millions of dollars days before its key clientele — barber shops — were shut down across the country. The company eventually went from defense to offense in its growth strategy, finding itself as a key partner for any barbershop that needed to start offering contactless payments, digital appointment booking and a more seamless customer experience built for a generation used to doing everything online. This week, Squire tripled its valuation thanks to a Tiger-Global-led round. The company is now worth $750 million, after being valued at around $75 million when we first spoke to them. When I spoke to co-founder Dave Salvant, who launched the company with Songe LaRon in 2016, he explained how the company is now in a spot to expand into other barbershop-specific value propositions — either through acquisitions or partnerships. This week, for example, Squire announced that it launched a payment processing arm with Bond, a venture-backed fintech infrastructure company. The company also partnered with Gusto to bring on HR services for its clientele. Salvant noted how the progress of tech, especially financial services, lets them offer up a strong product without needing to build everything in-house. While these are partnerships for now, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Squire begin to scoop up companies that can unlock value from its existing datasets of how barbershops function and what kind of capital comes in and out of those doors. Behind the numbers: Growth is not enough Squire balances clean fades with the coronavirus Here’s why so many fintech startups are loaning to small businesses It’s a company to watch that fits into the narrative of pandemic rocked, then proven startups looking to expand with fresh capitalization. Less common, though, is that Squire is now en route to becoming a historical and unfortunately still rare Black-led unicorn. More data points, the better. In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll discuss Robinhood’s public debut and why a CEO thinks everyone needs to be them for a day. You can find me on Twitter @nmasc_. Robinhood sells Robinhood Image Credits: TechCrunch The long-awaited Robinhood IPO is no longer long-awaited. After pricing at the lower end of its range, the consumer investing and trading app’s shares went down sharply, teetering between 8% to 10%. Here’s what to know: IPO expert and fellow Equity co-host Alex Wilhelm gave us two reasons as to why Robinhood’s stock went down. After all, we’re used to pops in the consumer-facing tech company world. Robinhood made a big chunk of its IPO available to its own users. Or, in practice, Robinhood curtailed early retail demand by offering its investors and traders shares at […]

The pandemic effect is slowing

Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s inspired by what the weekday Exchange column digs into, but free, and made for your weekend reading. Want it in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here.  Our work this week kicked off in China, dug into African startup activity, dealt with China once again, took a very deep dive into the Latin American startup ecosystem and wrapped with a second look at the Robinhood IPO. In other words, not much was really going on at all! You may have been surprised to see Amazon’s stock fall off a cliff Friday. After all, the company posted huge revenue gains to just over $113 billion during the quarter. And AWS, its public cloud business, seemed to tick along nicely. But investors had expected more growth and had priced the Seattle-based e-commerce player accordingly. When Amazon missed revenue expectations and projected Q3 2021 growth of “between 10% and 16% compared with third quarter 2020,” investors let go of its stock. But as some in the financial press are noting, it’s not just Amazon that’s taking stick from investors. Etsy and eBay also fell this week. It appears that investors are anticipating that a period of turbocharged growth in e-commerce thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic is slowing at least, and may in fact be over. That means valuations are going to get reset at a host of companies, startups included. Not that every company slowing down after the pandemic’s early phases is suffering, Duolingo managed a strong opening week as a public company despite slowing growth. But delta variant or not, the investing classes are changing their market framing. We’d be smart to keep that in mind. It’s the products, stupid Something that is stuck in my teeth this week is how much Robinhood has changed the game regarding consumer investing. Sure, this week was mostly about the company’s IPO and its somewhat relaxed early trading performance. But, buried in its final S-1/A filings is new evidence of Robinhood’s cultural impact. At the top of the U.S. consumer investing unicorn’s filings is a pair of statistics. They look like this: Image Credits: Robinhood Dang, you are thinking, that’s a lot of funded accounts and monthly active users. But then again, those are March 31, 2021, numbers. They are out of date. In the same filing, Robinhood indicated that its June 30 quarter saw its funded accounts tally grow to 22.5 million. That’s 25% growth in a single quarter! Naturally, there were a few things going on in the second quarter of this year that won’t happen again, but it’s still a bonkers result. Early Robinhood investor Jan Hammer of Index sent over a comment in the wake of his investment’s public offering, arguing that the company is part of work being done by tech companies to shake up financial services. Companies like Robinhood, he wrote, are “not just a fresh coat of paint for the same old financial products.” I think that […]