🚀 Billionaires battle for space supremacy
The rocket emoji in our headline has never been more appropriate.
special note ⭐
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Big news this week! Robinhood filed its S-1. As the charts above illustrate, 2020 was a milestone year. Revenue increased 2.5x, MAUs nearly tripled, and Robinhood recorded a profit. The underlying unit economics improved significantly - more on that here.
One of the things that makes Robinhood special is its organic growth. 80% of new funded accounts in 2020 came from word-of-mouth or referrals, which is an astonishingly high percentage! As you may remember, the company was in the news a lot last year (largely due to trading outages). Paradoxically, the “bad” press may have helped Robinhood by making more consumers aware of the app.
Whether the company’s outstanding growth will continue in future years is TBD. Market volatility helps trading apps, and (hopefully) future years won’t be as turbulent as 2020. However, there’s no question that Robinhood is unlocking new consumer demand, as an estimated 50%+ of the company’s customers are first-time investors. These users will likely put more money to work over time, as evidenced by Robinhood’s strong cohorts - on average, deposits 3.3x by M12 and 4.1x by M24!
On a less positive front - the company also agreed to pay a $70M fine ordered by FINRA (which regulates brokerage firms + exchange markets), but did not admit to any wrongdoing. This is FINRA’s largest-ever penalty, and stems from Robinhood’s trading outages and allegations of misleading communications. A small portion of the fine (~$13M) will go towards customer restitutions.
🌎 Duolingo drops S-1. Robinhood wasn’t the only company to file for an IPO this week! Language learning app Duolingo also released its S-1, revealing ~40M MAUs and nearly 2M paying subscribers. The company did $162M in revenue last year (128% YoY growth) and was EBITDA positive on an adjusted basis. If you’re interested in consumer subscription businesses, this S-1 is worth a read - there’s some interesting stats on things like how retention (and LTV) differ between plans.
🛍️ Torrid pops in IPO. Plus-size retailer Torrid received a warm welcome to the public markets this week. After pricing at the top of its range, the stock ended the week up 27% (implying a market cap of $2.9B). Torrid was founded in 2001 within Hot Topic, and spun out in 2015. The company generated nearly $1B in net sales last year, a slight decline from 2019, largely due to a shift from brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce.
💸 Etsy acquires Elo7. Etsy is in an acquisitive mood. Just weeks after buying Depop, the company announced its purchase of Elo7 (known as the “Etsy of Brazil”) for $217M. Elo7 is one of Brazil’s ten largest e-comm sites, with nearly 2M active buyers and 8M items for sale. Etsy will now operate four brands: the core Etsy site, Reverb, Depop, and Elo7. Each has remained a standalone property - I’m interested to see if Etsy eventually attempts to integrate them!
💻 Shopify cuts fees. Shopify hosted Unite, its annual developer conference, this week. The event was full of announcements (which I live tweeted here), including a new online store and more features that developers can customize. Perhaps most importantly, Shopify announced that it will no longer take a revenue share on the first $1M earned by app developers each year. Beyond $1M, Shopify’s revenue share will fall from 20% to 15%. Won’t this mean that Shopify makes less money? Maybe in the short term, but the company is hoping this encourages more innovation over time.
In a bizarre turn of events, we now have a race between billionaires to see who can get to space first. Richard Branson announced this week that he will be one of the astronauts on Virgin Galactic’s next test flight, which is scheduled to leave on July 11.
Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos is still planning to depart on a Blue Origin flight on July 20, which he announced in June. He’ll be traveling alongside three other guests - his brother, the winner of an auction (who bid $28M for the seat), and Wally Funk, an 82-year-old pilot who was the first female FAA instructor (and an aspiring astronaut).
Branson told CNN that “it really doesn’t matter” who is first to space…which sounds like exactly what you might say after scheduling yourself first 😂
what i’m following 👀
How Skims, Kim Kardashian’s shapewear brand, became an official outfitter for the U.S. Olympic team.
Meet Swimply, the Airbnb for pools - it just raised a $10M Series A.
TikTok is rolling out three-minute videos. Is it trying to be the new YouTube?
Facebook is getting into the newsletter business with Bulletin. Editor’s note - this is one of the weirder copycats that FB has launched, I’m curious to see if it goes anywhere.
“Creator economy” has become a buzzword recently! With the breakout success of companies like Patreon, OnlyFans, and TikTok, there’s suddenly a lot of attention on this space. With that comes VC $ - a few fundraises that caught my eye this week:
Mighty - raised a $6.5M seed led by Animo Ventures. Mighty helps kids start e-commerce businesses by customizing and selling pre-made products (some are hilarious - see this hat and this sweatshirt). I haven’t seen creator economy companies targeting this demo before, Mighty may be the first for Gen Alpha!
Pietra - raised a $15M Series A led by Founders Fund. Pietra enables creators to launch their own brands with little hassle - you use the platform to source products but don’t have to manage manufacturing, packaging, and shipping. You can check out some of the creators using Pietra here.
Karat - raised a $26M Series A led by USV. Karat is building financial products for creators, starting with a credit card. Creators often can’t get access to credit - let alone take out a mortgage or business loan - because they don’t have traditional income. Karat changes that! Fun fact: Olivia and I met the Karat founders (Eric and Will) through Accelerated, and led their first funding round at CRV.
OnDeck - Fintech & Chief of Staff Program Associates, VC Program Director (Remote)
Omada Health - Associate Product Manager (SF, Remote)
Retool - Biz Ops (SF)
Pave - Partner Operations (SF)
Zip - Product Designer*, Onboarding Manager* (Bay Area)
Next Insurance - Strategy Associate (Palo Alto)
Emerson Collective - Associate/Sr Associate, Growth Investing (Palo Alto)
Launch House - Ops Associate (LA, Remote)
Alpaca VC - Analyst (NYC)
Vimeo - Associate Product Manager (NYC)
Chainalysis - Associate Data Scientist (NYC)
Lightspeed - Enterprise Associates (India)
*Requires 3+ years of experience
Protocol - Fellow (SF, Remote)
Figure HR - Talent Acquisition Intern (SF, Remote)
Flexport Capital - MBA Intern (SF)
Domo - Product Marketing Manager Intern (Utah)
UiPath - Corp Dev Intern (Illinois)
Starship - Design Intern (NYC)
Alpaca VC - Marketing Fellow (NYC)
Gorillas - Ride Ops Intern (NYC)
Contentsquare - Customer Experience Intern (NYC, Remote)
Bubble - Content Marketing Intern (NYC, Remote)
puppy of the week 🐶
Meet Tank, a three-year-old Dachshund who lives in San Jose.
His hobbies include playing tag, running zoomies, and snuggling with his friends.
You can follow him on Instagram @tank_thedoxie!
Hi! 👋 I’m Justine Moore, an early stage consumer & SMB investor. I’m currently Head of GTM at Canal. Thanks for reading Accelerated. I’d love your feedback - feel free to tweet me @venturetwins.
Great content Justine, thank you!