Venture Bytes #33 – Snap Out of It

This edition’s two lead articles are titled “Snap Out of It” and “A Culture of Smoke & Mirrors”. The Snap article highlights the risk of basing the bull case of the story on the Millennial user base, which tends to be trendy and fickle. The second article is our take on the recent sexual harassment issue at Uber and the general culture in Silicon Valley firms.

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Venture Bytes #32 – All Competition is Local

We have two lead articles. The first “All Competition is Local” is a nod to strong competition from local incumbents in the international markets. The second lead article is titled “AI has Arrived”. With the technology maturing, funds flowing and the pace of acquisitions accelerating, AI has arrived and is well positioned to be transformational.

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Venture Bytes #31 – Riding Out the Regulatory Turbulence

For this edition of VB we are back to two lead articles. The first one: “Trump Rally and the Binary Impact” touches on the regulatory skirmishes that the gig economy companies are facing – and continue to face – as the debate over creative disruption and the status quo rages on. The second article: “Infrastructure Investment Benefits Go Beyond the Industrial Sector” states our case that the Technology sector will be a big beneficiary of the infrastructure spending that President-elect Trump has promised to unleash.

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Venture Bytes #30 – Trump Rally and the Binary Impact

The lead article, Trump Rally and the Binary Impact, suggests that both the public and private markets have reasons to worry and rejoice in anticipation of how the dust will settle.

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Venture Bytes #29 – Is Public the New Private?

The two lead articles are Is Public the New Private? and It’s the Content Stupid. The first one looks at the public valuations and the second is our takeaway from the AT&T – Time Warner proposed merger.

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Venture Bytes #28 – Exposure Hunters and 2016 IPOs

The first lead article, Exposure Hunters and 2016 IPO, is our commentary on the recent spate of successful tech IPOs. The second lead article is titled Streaming Music Hitting its Stride in India is a look at the streaming music landscape in India.

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Venture Bytes #27 – The Myth of One

The first lead article, The Myth of One, is our take on the common belief across the tech land that there will be one winner in a category. There seems to be very little evidence to suggest this is accurate and a fair amount of evidence to suggest it is false. The second lead article is titled Are Bots the New Apps? Bots are in the spotlight lately. Facebook set the ball in motion with the recent launch of bots on its messenger platform. While the applications of bots are appealing. It is still early days as a number of factors have to line up before we see mass adoption.

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Venture Bytes #26 – Buffeted by Risk

The first lead article, Buffeted By Risk, is a commentary on the recent volatility and the dramatic asset re-pricings in the public markets. We believe it might be time to commit to a cogent understanding, ignore the short term signal and stay a rational course. The second lead article, Unicorns Find Religion in Debt Financing?, looks at takeaways from the recent debt rounds by the tech unicorns. We don’t see any negative implications from these debt deals and believe companies are being opportunistic in the face of low interest rates, opportunity to minimize dilution, and ultimately gaining financial flexibility without giving up control. 

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Venture Bytes #25 – Blockchain

The first lead article, From Wild West to Wall Street, is on Blockchain. Seven years after the release of the open-source software, the Blockchain technology is gaining traction, albeit gradually and selectively.
The second article, May (Not) Jobs, is our take on May’s employment report. We believe payrolls and employment are sending worrying signals and markets are tunnel visioned in on the interest rate implications. A large and growing body of evidence suggests that the economy has been and continues to roil many and disappoint even more.  

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Venture Bytes #24 – Employment Report

The first article, April Payrolls and the Island Conceit, is our take on the April employment report from The Bureau of Labor Statistics. The second lead article, And the Winner is…? is a look at the potential bidders for Yahoo’s core assets and the likely winner.

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Venture Bytes #23 – What a Difference a Month Makes

The first one, What a Difference a Month Makes, is a commentary on the interplay between public and private market valuations. We believe as private shares continue to grow and emerge as an asset class, the correlations between public and private share price movements appears to be growing. In the short run that is encouraging. In the longer run, that is good to know. The second lead article, Pre-IPO Returns Top Post-IPO Returns, looks at the returns of 20 tech IPOs since 2011. The key conclusion of our study is that the return spread between pre-IPO investing and post-IPO investing is glaringly wide, in favor of pre-IPO investing. The return, it turns out, far outweighs the risk.

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Venture Bytes #22 -Good News – Bad News

The first one, Good News – Bad News, is our take on the last employment report from The Bureau of Labor Statistics. In a nutshell, the report generally aligns with our belief that technology itself, investment and the macro economy, are setting up to create a period, the next 18 months, that will be all about operationalizing and cost savings. The rising wage data and slowing productivity reports of the last weeks support this thesis. The second lead article is on the key takeaways from a proprietary on-the ground survey that our partner in India conducted to understand the competitive ecommerce landscape in India. Not surprising, Flipkart appears to be the leader in all categories, with Amazon India and Snapdeal not far behind. Interesting data. 

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Venture Bytes #21 – Over the Shoulder

Over the Shoulder, our glance back at 2015 and a look ahead to 2016. We see 2015 as a “crossroads year”. We expect a pause before another steep climb as we integrate new technologies and prepare for another rapid ascent.

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Venture Bytes #20 – Clicks over Bricks?

Clicks over Bricks?, highlights a few data points from this years Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days. The main takeaway is that while the headline suggests a sharp rise in e-tailing, a closer look at the numbers shows that e-tailing is still a long ways from becoming the primary method of shopping. 

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Venture Bytes #19 – E Vs R Tailing

This week’s lead article, E vs R Tailing, is a commentary on the distinct divergence of performance between e-tailers and brick and mortar retailers, based on third quarter earnings reports. As we anticipate and try to factor future conditions, a rising predilection for eCommerce is starting to take shape as likely trend.

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Venture Bytes #18 – Interest Rates

This week’s lead article, Interest Rates and Rating Interest, is a commentary on the relationship between interest rates and asset prices, a relevant topic in the face of expected increase in interest rates. 

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Venture Bytes #17 – Indian E-Commerce: A Vibrant Opportunity

This week’s lead article is Indian E-Commerce: A Vibrant Opportunity, is a commentary on the e-commerce opportunity in India.

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Venture Bytes #16 – Can’t Rise From the Ashes While Denying the Fire

This week’s lead article is Can’t Rise From the Ashes While Denying the Fire, is a commentary on the pre-IPO tech valuations. We believe the best and most heady days are on pause. The worst days are not coming back.

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Venture Edition #15 – Return to Risk-On

This week’s lead article, Return to Risk-On, is topical given the turmoil in the public markets. Across growing geographies we are now seeing sudden and pronounced displays of the inherent risk of risk assets. We are also seeing a sudden, mass re-acknowledgement of risk. Many start-ups will find a positive path through the difficulty that is worsening and spreading through public markets, commodity prices, developing world currencies and macro economies. We will see more caution and cautiously funded evolution and a bit less hype and claims to revolution.

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Venture Bytes #14 – Digital Ads – Time to Follow the Growing Crowds

This week’s lead article is titled Digital Ads – Time To Follow The Growing Crowds. Digital advertising spending in the emerging markets lags the developed markets. Twitter, for instance, gets 36% of its total revenues from international markets when 77% of its user base is international. Facebook gets 51% of revenues from the international markets when a whopping 85% of its monthly active users are outside the United States and Canada. What gives? We believe digital ad platforms need to proactively position themselves to follow the growing crowds.

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Venture Bytes #13 – User Generated (Dis) Content

This week’s lead article, User-Generate (Dis) Content, is a commentary on the divergence of fortune among user generated content (UGC) companies. Google, of which YouTube was a path blazer in UGC, had a strong quarter. Facebook continues to perform well and Twitter continues to struggle. Yelp remains on the ropes. Meerkat, Periscope and many others are nipping at their heals, or offering broadcast video opportunity, as the next iteration of UGC. The grand “we” seems to want to perform, exhibit and stream themselves. Investors have been excited. Fans have materialized but growth has been a challenge.

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Venture Bytes #12 – Bitcoin – Still Waiting For A Tipping Point

This week’s lead article, Bitcoin – Still Waiting For A Tipping Point, is a commentary on the most prominent digital currency today. Derided as a Ponzi scheme, a currency of choice for drug dealers and money launderers, an impractical currency with no intrinsic value, bitcoin has seen its share of skepticism. Balance all that negativity with growing venture investment in bitcoin startups and the rising number of merchants accepting bitcoins and you have the makings of a head-scratcher! We believe bitcoin is gaining ground as a viable store of value but is still far away from mass adoption.

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Venture Bytes #11- Streaming The Future?

This week’s lead article, Streaming The Future? is a commentary on Apple music and the streaming music category. Apple is set to debut it’s new streaming music offering. The roll out will be by way of an iOS update to hundreds of millions devices and fans. Apple is offering a service that is very similar to the present market leader, Spotify.

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Venture Bytes #10 – E-Commerce is all Grown Up and Moving On

This week’s lead article, E-Commerce is all Grown Up and Moving On, is our take on the evolution of the e-commerce. E-commerce obstacles are falling and the second wave of digital natives is getting their hands on credit cards, debit cards, online purchasing power. The rise of everything as a service, or delivered, is helping. E-commerce has moved into social, picture, video and streaming. E-commerce has essentially grown up and moved on from being just cheaper stuff, generic stuff offered to folks who would just rather buy online.

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Venture Bytes #9 – Net Neutrality – The Debate Rages On

This week’s lead article, Net Neutrality – The Debate Rages On, is our take on the net neutrality issue. The FCC proposed new rules for broadband access and politicians are up in arms on both sides of the divide. There is an election super cycle coming. The lawyers are getting ready for long battles, some fought in the spotlight. The vitality and innovation that we should and need to nurture and celebrate could vanish, and will decline, if the “economics” of net neutrality takes precedence over the “larger good” of net neutrality. We support the FCC’s new proposal and expect the courts to approve it.

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Venture Bytes #8 – A Shared Future, A Global Economy of Haves & Servants

This week’s article, A Shared Future, A Global Economy of Haves & Servants, is a commentary on the rise of the sharing economy. The current macroeconomic environment coupled with the popularity of new disruptive technology companies have caused this movement towards sharing rides, homes and more.

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Venture Bytes #7 – Bubbling Up – High Valuations, Late Stage Rounds, and Everything in Between

This week’s lead article, Bubbling Up – High Valuations, Late Stage Rounds, and Everything in Between, is a cautionary note on current valuations. It seems like all the usual suspects, and a phalanx more, have weighed in on the bubble controversy. We have been cautioning about unreasonable valuations in subtle but rising tones for about nine months now. And while we still see great companies at reasonable valuations, the number of valuations in nosebleed territory continue to rise.

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Venture Bytes #6 – Time to Cross the Stream?

This week’s lead article Time to Cross the Stream? is on cord cutting and whether or not we have reached the tipping point in over the top (OTT) content delivery. Pundits and news reports say yes with increasing volume and certainty. Recent announcements from Apple, Dish, Sony and others notwithstanding, we believe cord cutting is still a marginal phenomenon. Report of the death of cable and satellite companies is greatly exaggerated.

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Venture Bytes #5 – A/B Testing – Optimization

This week’s lead article, A/B Testing – Optimization, discusses the importance of A/B testing as a way to effectively maintain and grow a company’s user base in an increasingly competitive market. We currently see the largest and most sophisticated organizations generating huge returns to active users by collecting and analyzing key data on the growth of their own users.

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Venture Bytes #4 – Digital Wallets: End of the Beginning or Beginning of the End?

This week’s lead article, Digital Wallets: End of the Beginning or Beginning of the End? is a look at digital wallet space following the arrival of Apple Pay. We believe a combination of factors – part structural, part user experience – will drive the next and larger cycle in digital wallet adoption. Apple Pay will be a key enabler, it will be neither alone nor, the necessary winner.

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Venture Bytes #3 – Multiple Directions on Multiples

This week’s lead article, Multiple Directions on Multiples, is a commentary on the public company multiples and private company valuations of leading names. Private company valuation is as much art as science, sometimes as much alchemy as chemistry. Among the few reliable and well-worn guidelines to follow are public companies and recent M&A multiples. This is why we spend so much time refining, tracking and parsing the multiples we use. Oddly, we have observed a strange lag and over correct pattern between public company multiples and private company valuations of leading names. This appears to be happening again with a small subset of high flying private names.

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Venture Bytes #2 – Wearables

This week’s lead article looks at the wearable category, ahead of Apple’s highly anticipated entry in this category. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, announced yesterday on the earnings conference call that he plans to launch iWatch in mid-April of this year. Will it be a game changer, as is widely expected, or yet another accessory? Will it finally catch the imagination of the masses and usher in the era of Wearables 2.0 or stay limited to a niche market as most devices to date have done? These are pivotal questions ahead of the launch.

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Venture Bytes #1 – Ad Supported: The Future or a Fantasy?

This week’s article, Ad Supported: The Future or a Fantasy?, is a commentary on the number of emerging technology companies betting on ads and specifically mobile ads as a main stream of revenue. In today’s economy we see why a company’s service may need to be free, but are less sure of the long-term value of the customers the company is serving.

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