🚀 Netflix crosses major milestone
Plus, what % of companies are now starting fully remote?
Kim-Mai Cutler at Initialized Capital published some interesting data on how the firm’s portfolio companies have adapted to the pandemic. A couple of key takeaways:
Pre-pandemic, the plurality (42%) of the firm’s portfolio companies said that the Bay Area was the best place to found a startup, and only 6% would start distributed or remote. Now, 42% said they’d start distributed/remote.
Post-pandemic, 64% of portfolio companies still expect to have physical offices, but only 10% will expect employees to work from the office five days a week.
The majority of companies (61%) with a distributed workforce don’t plan to adjust salaries based on where an employee is located, unlike big tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Stripe.
🎥 Netflix crosses 200M subscribers. 2020 was a big year for Netflix! Thanks to breakout hits like The Crown and Tiger King, the company had nine of the top 10 most-searched TV shows in 2020. Netflix ended the year with 204M subscribers (22% YoY growth) despite increased competition from players like Disney+ (87M subscribers) and HBOMax (which saw 50% subscriber growth between Oct and Dec). The company also announced that it expects to break even this year and be cash flow positive in 2022, ending a ten year streak of raising billions in debt to finance original content.
📈 Qualtrics readies for IPO. Remember when Qualtrics was prepping to IPO in 2019, but was instead acquired by SAP at the last minute? The company is getting a second chance at a public debut next week! SAP will be spinning out Qualtrics at an expected valuation of $14B+, a heavy markup from its acquisition price of $8B. Qualtrics has an unconventional success story - it was bootstrapped for ten years before finally raising funding, and will be the largest IPO in Utah’s history!
🎈 Google shuts down Loon. After a decade of work, Alphabet has canceled Loon, a project that used helium balloons to provide Internet in remote regions. Loon’s mobile coverage was 200x better than a ground-based cell tower, but Alphabet could not find a sustainable business model after nearly 2,000 test flights. The move reflects CEO Sundar Pichai’s shift away from expensive “moonshot” bets pioneered by founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google’s “Other Bets” division lost $3.3B in the first nine months of 2020, and some projects (e.g. Waymo) are now funded with external capital.
👨⚖️ Judge upholds Parler ban. Conservative social media app Parler was effectively shut down this month after it was removed from Apple & Google’s App Stores and banned by hosting platform Amazon Web Services (AWS). Parler then filed suit against AWS on antitrust grounds, alleging that the company was colluding with Twitter to “reduce competition in the microblogging services market.” A federal judge struck down Parler’s complaint this week, calling the company’s arguments “faint and factually inaccurate speculation,” as AWS doesn’t host Twitter.
In a strange turn of events, one of Trump’s last moves in office was pardoning former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski. You may recognize Levandowski’s name from his high-profile court case - after leaving Google (where he worked on autonomous vehicles), he founded a self-driving truck startup called Otto that was acquired by Uber.
Google accused Levandowski of stealing trade secrets and won a $245M settlement from Uber. Levandowski was later charged by the U.S. District Attorney, and pled guilty to downloading & using Google documents after he resigned. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison last August, but hasn’t started serving time due to COVID.
what we’re following 👀
Curtsy, a clothing resale app for Gen Z (and a CRV portco!), raised an $11M Series A.
Protocol asked investors to weigh in on whether or not we’re in a VC bubble.
Is Famous Birthdays the Wikipedia for Gen Z influencers?
What do The Kissing Booth, After, and Light as a Feather have in common? They’re all TV series or movies that originated on Wattpad! The writing platform hosts 90M monthly users and 1B+ stories - heavily skewed towards YA content and fanfiction.
Wattpad has doubled down on commercialization in the past few years, launching new efforts to sell or produce content based on its top stories. The company’s AI-powered StoryDNA tool spots blockbuster stories early on based on reader engagement, and also identifies macro trends of interest to Gen Zers.
Wattpad found its own exit this week - the company was acquired by South Korean conglomerate Naver (owner of Webtoon and Line) for $600M, a 20x multiple on an estimated $25M in annual revenue. Wattpad’s current team will continue to lead the company, and the platform will remain a standalone site. However, Wattpad’s trends data will likely be integrated into Webtoon and other Naver products.
Techstars - Global Startup Pipeline Lead (Remote)*
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Touchdown Ventures - Analyst (Remote, Philly)
ff Venture Capital - Associate (Remote, NYC)
B Capital Group - Strategy & Ops Associate, Healthcare (SF)
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puppy of the week 🐶
Meet Juneau, a seven-month-old soft-coated Wheaten Terrier who lives in Indianapolis. His baby picture is on the far right - he’s been growing fast!
Juneau enjoys playing in the snow, staring out the window during car rides, and spinning around like a tornado (to try to catch his own tail). He recently got his first big haircut.
Follow him on Instagram @juneauthesuperdog!
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.