The Honest Company, a natural consumer goods brand founded by Jessica Alba, filed to IPO this week. The company makes baby, beauty, & home goods products for “conscious consumers” who care about ingredients and making sustainable choices.
From the beginning, the Honest Company pursued a different strategy than many next-gen brands. It launched in 2012 with 17 products, which is huge for a new brand - most start with just a few SKUs! The company also quickly pursued distribution partnerships with retailers like Target, Costco, and Amazon. Honest Company products are available in 32K stores across North America and Europe.
This is in stark contrast to most digitally-native brands, which typically only sell products direct-to-consumer. Even brands like Allbirds, Warby Parker, and Everlane, which have reached significant scale, sell exclusively via their websites and own brick-and-mortar stores. It’s unusual to see a VC-backed brand distributing through a big box retailer - owning the entire customer experience is often crucial to the company’s strategy and values (worth noting that there are some exceptions, like Harry’s!).
We’re interested to see how public investors receive the Honest Company. Casper, which went public in 2020, was the first IPO of the VC-backed D2C brand era. The company had a rough outing, and is currently trading at half of its opening price. Both Casper and the Honest Company were unprofitable, but we suspect the latter may have stronger unit economics - marketing spend only totaled 15% of 2020 revenue, compared to 37% for Casper in the nine months pre-IPO.
🎤 Clubhouse adds payments. Clubhouse has officially started testing monetization, with a new feature that allows users to send payments to creators. It’s still in beta with a small group of creators, but will be rolling out more broadly soon. Interestingly, the creator keeps 100% of the payment after Stripe fees - Clubhouse does not take a cut. In other Clubhouse news, the company was reportedly in talks with Twitter to be acquired for $4B (4x its Series B valuation in January).
💰 Coinbase financials make a splash. Coinbase dropped an updated S-1 ahead of its direct listing this week. The headline? The company continues to see impressive growth, with $1.8B in Q1 revenue (up 9x YoY!). Active users climbed from 2.8M to 6.1M QoQ, while verified users grew by 13M. Coinbase is also profitable, with net income in the $730-800M range. The company is expected to debut at a ~$100B market cap.
🗳️ Amazon union vote fails. All eyes were on Alabama, as Amazon warehouse workers held their first-ever unionization vote. With nearly 1.3M employees, Amazon is one of the world’s largest employers - a vote to unionize could have had a meaningful effect on labor practices. However, the proposal was defeated, 70% - 30%. Union proponents blame the result on “anti-union tactics” by Amazon, while “no” voters said the potential increase in pay and benefits was not worth the risk and cost of a union.
📈 Mega rounds for growth startups. Another week, another round of huge raises:
Patreon (a CRV portfolio company) raised $155M at a $4B valuation, up 3x from last Sept. The company now helps 200K creators get support from 7M fans.
Graphic design platform Canva raised $71M at a $15B valuation. The company did $500M in revenue last year (up 130% YoY) and is profitable.
Skims, Kim Kardashian’s shapewear brand, became a unicorn! The company did $145M in sales last year, and expects to double this in 2021.
We are excited to announce that corporate snacks-as-a-service is now a thing! SnackMagic raised a $15M Series A from Craft Ventures this week. SnackMagic enables companies to send customizable snack boxes to employees, event attendees, sales prospects, and more.
We’ve seen many consumer startups benefit from COVID (e.g. digital health, food delivery, home fitness), but SnackMagic is an interesting example of a COVID-induced pivot. The company was originally Stadium, an NYC lunch delivery service that pooled orders for co-workers. When everyone started working from home in March 2020, Stadium’s business disappeared. The team explored other options for using the platform they had built, and came up with SnackMagic. The customer demand is clear - SnackMagic hit a $20M revenue run rate in eight months and turned profitable.
Were we involved in this fundraise at all? No. Are we desperately hoping to receive a SnackMagic box at some point in the near future? Absolutely!
what we’re following 👀
Why streaming services like Netflix are running out of new shows.
TikTok’s latest trend? Vaccine rivalry videos.
An interview with Semil Shah - this covers a wide range of topics, but would be particularly interesting to anyone looking to learn how VC firms recruit.
Tom Brady is launching an NFT company this spring.
Interesting news this week from China - the country will become the first major economy to launch its own digital currency! How will this work? Instead of printing a physical bill or minting a coin, the government issues a digital certificate representing money you can spend with an app or physical card. This digital currency is called the e-CNY (electronic Chinese yuan), and even resembles the physical currency.
It’s important to note that this form of digital currency is very different from cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which operate via decentralized networks and enable anonymous transactions. The e-CNY is controlled by China’s central bank, which will be able to monitor who holds the currency and where it’s being spent.
Though the e-CNY will be distributed through banks and fintech apps, it’s designed to be transferred with no middlemen - it will instantaneously move between accounts. This could theoretically eliminate the need for payment platforms like WeChat Pay and Alipay, as users will have e-wallets in their bank app.
The U.S. is reportedly exploring the creation of a digital dollar, but we don’t expect this to happen anytime soon. China is lightyears ahead of the U.S. in digital payments - 90%+ of people in the country’s major cities use WeChat Pay or Alipay as their primary form of payment, and a cashless future seems imminent!
🏳️🌈 Dorm Room Fund is launching Prism, a six-week, remote summer program for LGBTQ+ students to learn about the fundamentals of VC. Apply here by 5/2!
Chapter One - Crypto Investor (Remote, LA)
Webflow - Community Associate (Remote, SF)
Coda - Growth Associate Program (Remote, Bay Area)
Pilot - Finance & Strategy Associate (SF)
Goldman Sachs - AIMS Imprint Analyst (SF)
M12 - Partner (SF)*
Better - Ops Associate (Oakland)
Octant - Operations (Emeryville)
Ramp - Biz Ops (NYC)
Harlem Capital - Platform & Community Manager (NYC)*
NextView - Investor (NYC)*
E14 Fund - Venture Associate (Boston)
Indicator Ventures - MBA Summer Intern (NYC, Boston, Remote)
Reddit - Communications Intern (Remote)
Gusto - PM Intern (Denver, NYC, Remote)
Modern Treasury - Growth Intern (SF, Remote)
Chipper Cash - Product Design Intern (SF, Remote)
Zoom - Marketing Intern (San Jose)
Snap - MBA Dev Rel Growth Intern (LA, Remote)
Robinhood - Customer Experience Ops Intern (Austin)
WHOOP - Biz Intelligence Intern (Boston)
Great Jones - MBA Intern (NYC)
Daily Harvest - Marketing Intern (NYC)
Zola - MBA Product Intern (NYC)
puppy of the week 🐶
Our friend Les Woof Woof turned four yesterday! Les is a goldendoodle who lives in the Bay Area.
Les’ hobbies include eating (he’s 95 lbs!), wading in pools, licking people on the face, and hanging out with his friends. He’s also very studious - he’s currently finishing his degree at the Stanford GSB.
You can follow his adventures on Instagram @leswoofwoof!
Hi! 👋 We’re Justine and Olivia Moore, identical twins and venture investors at CRV. Thanks for reading Accelerated. We’d love your feedback - feel free to tweet us @venturetwins or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.