🚀 23andMe tests the public markets
Plus, is it possible to preview a podcast?
Even as the world reopens, consumers are spending more time (and money!) than ever on mobile games. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, downloads are up 30% and spending is up 40% on iOS and Google Play games (combined) worldwide.
App Annie and IDC’s “Gaming Spotlight” report found that games with real-time, multiplayer features top the charts. This includes three of the top four iOS games of the quarter - Roblox, Pokemon GO!, and Genshin Impact.
Average monthly hours per user on gaming livestream/community apps like Twitch and Discord peaked earlier in COVID - 5.7 hours per user for Twitch in March 2020 (now 4.5 hours), and 4.5 hours per user for Discord in July 2020 (now 4.2 hours). While usage has dipped slightly in recent months, it’s still above pre-COVID levels.
🎮 If you’re interested in gaming, check out Bloomberg’s breakdown of how low budget games are getting a chance in the spotlight with COVID-induced delays of major franchises.
🧬 23andMe debuts on Nasdaq. Genetic testing company 23andMe went public via SPAC on Thursday - shares rose 21% on the first day of trading. 23andMe was founded in 2006 and has since genotyped 11M+ customers, ~80% of whom have opted in to sharing their data for research. You may know 23andMe from its at-home testing kits, but the company also offers a subscription for ongoing genetic insights and uses the data it collects to power the development of pharmaceuticals.
🎧 FB experiments with audio rooms. Facebook is officially testing live audio rooms in the U.S., a month after rolling out the feature to a limited group of users in Taiwan. The first U.S. room featured three Facebook Gaming creators and several execs, including Mark Zuckerberg - he used the opportunity to announce new features coming to the Facebook’s gaming platform. Zuckerberg didn’t give an exact date for when the feature will be released more broadly, but the company has previously stated that it will be available to all users (starting with Groups) this summer.
🛻 Lordstown Motors loses execs. It was a tough week for Lordstown Motors, the electric vehicle startup that went public via SPAC last year. Lordstown was expected to begin producing its first vehicle, a fully electric pickup truck, in September. However, the company announced last month that it would need to raise more capital to fund production. This week, the CEO and CFO both resigned after a board committee found that they had made inaccurate statements about pre-order volume. Lordstown has since clarified that it has no binding purchase orders.
💸 Fundraising recaps!
Local services marketplace Thumbtack raised $275M at a $3.2B valuation. Though COVID lockdowns were initially a tailwind for the company, Thumbtack managed to grow revenue more than 50% over the past year.
Bringg, which powers last-mile delivery for retailers, announced a $100M Series E at a $1B valuation. You may have interacted with Bringg without realizing it - customers include retailers like Safeway and Walmart!
Social network IRL raised a $170M Series C at a $1.2B valuation. The company started as a platform to find real-world events, but pivoted to virtual events and group chats during COVID. IRL now has 12M monthly active users.
Big news from Shopify this week! The company is rolling out its checkout solution, Shop Pay, to all retailers who sell on Google or Facebook.
Why would retailers on other platforms want to use Shop Pay? It streamlines the checkout process, making it 70% faster and raising conversion by an average of 1.7x. Shop Pay also makes it easy for consumers to pay in installments (at participating retailers) and track their packages through the Shop app.
Though Shopify is one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, there are millions of merchants who don’t use it. This will be Shopify’s first product for these retailers, and speaks to the company’s broader mission to “arm the rebels” against Amazon.
what we’re following 👀
a16z launched Future, a publication that explores how tech is transforming the world.
Check out Magdalena Kala’s new job board, Double Down.
Following Amazon (and of course, Apple!), Google has opened its first retail store.
Harry Stebbings, host of the 20 Minute VC, announced a $140M fund.
We’re making a list of D2C brands that target Gen Z - add your favorites here!
Spotify continues to push into podcasting, announcing its acquisition of discovery app Podz. Podz tackles what we call the “preview problem” - unlike video, images, or text, you can’t scan audio ahead of time to get a sense of whether you’ll enjoy it. The average podcast episode is 43 minutes long, making it costly (from a time perspective!) for consumers to try new shows they might not like. Podz uses AI to identify key moments from an episode and generate short clips to serve as previews.
As podcasting has moved into the mainstream (28% of Americans are now weekly listeners!), Spotify has been a prolific acquirer. On the tech side, Spotify owns ad marketplace Megaphone, hosting platform Anchor, and live audio app Betty Labs. On the content side, Spotify bought studios Gimlet Media, Parcast, and The Ringer. Spotify has also signed exclusive deals with major shows - such as The Joe Rogan Experience, Call Her Daddy, and Michelle and Barack Obama’s podcasts.
Is Spotify’s investment in podcasting paying off? Spotify reportedly passed Apple Podcasts in 2020 as the #1 podcasting app in the U.S.. The company is also beginning to monetize this traffic with a subscription service for podcasters who publish on Anchor (which Spotify owns). Podcast revenue has been slow to ramp up, but is expected to grow ~30% annually between 2020 and 2027. Starting in 2023, Spotify will take a 5% cut of the revenue from subscriptions enabled by its platform.
Do you listen to podcasts on Spotify?
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puppy of the week 🐶
Meet Aloe, a 1.5-year-old Dalmatian who lives in Toronto, Canada.
Aloe enjoys going on hikes, hanging out with her Westie BFF, and waking up her humans to get more play time.
Follow her on Instagram @aloe_the_dalmatian!
Hi! 👋 I’m Justine Moore, an early stage consumer investor. Thanks for reading Accelerated. I’d love your feedback - feel free to tweet me @venturetwins.