Casper files to go public, shows you can lose money selling mattresses

E-commerce phenom and D2C bright light Casper has filed to go public.

The New York-based company that raised nearly $340 million while private, according to Crunchbase data, expects to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “CSPR.” Its S-1 filing includes a $100 million placeholder figure for its possible capital raise.

The company will need the money, as it loses money and burns cash. Let’s explore just how a mattress company does that.

Growth, loss

In the full years of 2017 and 2018, Casper recorded revenue of $250.9 million (net of $45.7 million in “refunds, returns, and discounts”) and $357.9 million (net of $80.7 million in “refunds, returns, and discounts”). That worked out to growth of 42.6% in the year.

Over the same two periods, Casper lost $73.4 million and $92.1 million on a net basis, respectively.

In the first three quarters of 2019 versus 2018, Casper put up $312.3 million in top line (net of $80.1 million in “refunds, returns, and discounts”), up just over 20% from its year-ago three-quarter tally of $259.7 million in revenue (net of $57.7 million in “refunds, returns, and discounts”).

The company’s net loss during the three-quarter period rose from $64.2 million in 2018 to $67.4 million in 2019. The company’s net losses are generally rising (though slowly so far in 2019), while its growth decelerates.

In contrast, and to the company’s favor, its operating cash burn is slowing. From $84.0 million in 2017 to $72.3 million in calendar 2018, Casper slowed its operating cash consumption further in 2019, to just $29.7 million in the first three quarters of the year, compared to $44.9 million over the same period of the preceding year.

But the company’s slowing growth and stiff losses using regular accounting methods (GAAP) could strain its valuation. Casper was valued at $1.1 billion in its most recent funding round.

While the company’s gross margins aren’t bad for a non-software company (49.6% in the first nine months of 2019), the firm spent over 73% of its gross profit last year on sales and marketing costs. That figure indicates that Casper spent heavily to generate growth, growth that came in at about 20% so far in 2019, as reported.

That fact implies that growth will remain constrained, as the firm can’t afford to spend too much more on the line item. Which begs the question: What’s the value of a firm that is showing slowing growth, non-recurring revenue and sticky GAAP losses?

The company’s adjusted losses aren’t much better. Looking at its adjusted EBITDA, a profit metric so distorted to flatter that it’s nigh a funhouse mirror, Casper only marginally improved on its 2018 tally looking at the first three quarters of that year (-$57.5 million) in 2019 (-$53.8 million).


Casper has raised from IVP, Lerer Hippeau, Target and New Enterprise Associates. The firm raised seed capital back in 2014 along with a Series A. Lerer and NEA were most active back then, looking at its funding history.

The company raised $55 million more in 2015, and a far-larger $170 million in mid-2017. A $100 million round came in 2019 that set it up for its 2020 IPO.

This company’s IPO is a pricing question. And one that will impact a host of startups that both compete directly with Casper or operate in a different vertical with a similar business. Get hype.

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