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  • After selling more than $2B of his shares, Travis Kalanick has severed his final ties to Uber. The New York Times reports:

    Travis Kalanick, the founder and former chief executive of Uber, has stepped down from the company’s board of directors, severing his last tie with the company. 

    Mr. Kalanick, 43, started the Uber in 2009 with co-founder Garrett Camp, and grew it from a small start-up to a behemoth that defined the ride hailing industry. The company went public in May, and has since struggled on the public market. The board forced Mr. Kalanick to resign as chief executive in 2017 after a series of sexual harassment and privacy incidents.

    Talk about selling out. Kalanick’s reign of burning a seemingly endless supply of cash may have finally come to an end, but Uber continues to hemorrhage cash. Travis has been riding the IPO pony to cash out slowly (which, I should add, many others were not so lucky). A majority of his shares have been locked-up since the IPO, which is why he didn’t sell them en masse. There’s no ambiguity about this $2B conclusion, he’s done with Uber.

  • Felix Salmon for Axios:

    The bottom line: A whopping 81% of the $29.55 billion in equity that Uber has raised is underwater. IPO investors have lost $655 million, while investors from 2016 and 2018 have between them lost $2.27 billion.

    Losers: Investors who bought Uber shares 3 years ago have lost 15% of their money, before fees. The opportunity cost is even greater: Investors in the S&P 500 have seen their money grow by 50% over the same period.

    Holy. Guacamole. That sucks.

    Uber lost more money than any other company that has ever gone public. That’s impressive and morally repugnant. Sure, it minted a few millionaires and reinforced the world’s wealthiest man, Jeff Bezos with a cool $400M. Fun. I wonder how the underwater investor feel right about now?

    It’s still early days — but I’m still largely a proponent of Lyft (and the subsidiary Motivate for that matter). Personally, I believe Uber will bleed into oblivion thanks to the rat-race of short sellers. But if automation is the key to profitability (for any ride-hailing company), Uber just shot the starting pistol.

    Crossing the chasm of losses per share for these companies will be an arduous race. It’s going to be an insane ride. Especially during this absolutely absurd trade war Trump has started, which I should add, irrefutably, the US will lose this trade war if Trump continues to escalate.

  • It’s official.

    So, the trend begins. Tech startups will no longer IPO, but instead direct list. I’m kind of into it. It gets right to the point. There’s no ritualistic dance with investors, no large ceremonial bell ringing, no superficial breakfast or charade between bankers, investors, shareholders, workers, and founders.

    The public, the investors, the VCs and so on — they all get what they want on the big day, without the headache, fever and subsequent hangover from the IPO. You just list, and poof — you’re on the exchange. Simple enough.

    Matt Levine of Bloomberg:

    It seems to me that the IPO process is going through something similar: It used to be that, if you wanted to go public, there was one way to do it. Now there are two. But the choice creates the possibility of more choice, of unlimited customization, of tweaking each feature to get exactly the tradeoffs you want.

    It sort of makes sense that this would be a project led by tech companies, no? The story is that there was a big old legacy business that comfortably sold a standard package of features for a lucrative price, and then a bunch of tech startups came in and questioned everything; they unbundled the service so customers could get what they wanted rather than what the legacy players wanted to sell. It’s just that the tech companies didn’t do it as competitors, by offering the disruptive unbundled product, but as customers, by demanding it.

    Interesting, huh? Leave it to the startups to disrupt a 236 year old process.

    I can’t quite read the oracle bones on Slack, but it has serious potential. The jury is still out on their rebrand. While the rebrand stings, their engineering prowess and vision is impressive. Slack isn’t the new watercooler, there’s no money in that metaphor — Slack is the new vending machine.

    At any rate, it seems that direct listing will become the new norm for VC-funded tech startups. I have to say, I don’t hate the thought of it.

  • Lyft Files for IPO

    From TechCrunch:

    In a confidential filing with the SEC, Lyft did not state the number of shares it expects to offer, nor the price range. But Lyft says it expects to make its initial public offering after the SEC finishes its review process.

    Lyft was last valued at about $15 billion, while competitor Uber is valued north of $100 billion.Uber, of course, is also expected to go public sometime next year. According to Reuters, Lyft’s IPO will happen during the first half of 2019 and be underwritten by JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse and Jeffries.

    This is pretty bold, for one. To seek an IPO during a pretty tumultuous and anxious bearish market. As of writing, 2018 was a pretty bullish year. By the time Lyft IPO’s there’s a chance that the market will not be too hot. 

    This is all purely speculation of course. I still maintain the belief that Lyft is a great buy. Uber is overvalued, and little has changed since leadership swapped hands. I am very pleased to see Lyft beating Uber to be the first ride-sharing network to IPO. Personally, I’m rooting for Lyft. Fiscally, we all should be honestly. Competition is good in the marketplace, and leaves everyone better off.

    Furthermore, and I can’t quite place it — but Lyft reminds of Apple’s early years in the 1980’s. Maybe I’m just hopeful. I’m not sure. But the fact that both companies believe that their core resources are people — is a big fucking deal. For example, Apple and Lyft care about diversity and inclusion. 

  • From Reuters:

    On Thursday, Reuters reported that San Francisco-based Lyft is close to hiring an IPO advisory firm as a first concrete step toward becoming publicly listed.

    Lyft would establish a public valuation for ride services startups that has been elusive. Lyft was valued at $7.5 billion in its latest fundraising, while larger rival Uber is valued at $68 billion. Some question whether that is fair, given the range of scandals at Uber this year. In August, Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi set a new tentative timeline for Uber’s IPO of between 18 and 36 months.

    Interesting news. It appears that Lyft is attempting to get to the IPO stage before Uber. I’m curious what Wall Street will do when they file. I’m rooting for Lyft, and personally rooting for Logan Green — the CEO. Green is smart, methodical and runs a tight ship. The LA Times has a great write-up about him and the future of Lyft, here.

    Uber is hemorrhaging cash in R&D, has continuous workplace problems, and isn’t even profitable. Ride-sharing (and hailing) is a difficult game, but both Lyft and Uber seem to be investing in AI which is a wise choice. It’s good to see Lyft is courting investors this early on in autonomous ride tech, and has even struck deals with Ford and GM. Uber is notably not into collaborations or any deals for that matter.

    Green knows what he’s doing. Nothing creative happens in a vacuum. I’m thinking Lyft is a buy. Uber is definitely in the hard pass column.