5 Highly Anticipated IPO's of 2019


2019 is shaping up to a big one for startup IPOs. Below are five of 2019's most highly anticipated IPOs.

Uber/Lyft - The two largest ride-haling companies have made no secret of their competition with one another. Now, as each seems ready to go public, that competition looks to be headed to the trading floor. It was reported last month, Lyft filed to go public sometime in the first half of 2019. Not to be outdone, Uber also reportedly filed confidentially to go public in the first half of 2019 just two days after Lyft. With an estimated $120 billion valuation, Uber is far-and-away the larger player when compared to Lyft’s $12 billion valuation. However, with a 28% market share compared to Uber’s 70%, the competition between the two looks to be going nowhere soon.

Palantir - The secretive data-mining an analytics firm reportedly has been valued at of over $41 billion. According to The Wall Street Journal, Palantir is reportedly in talks with Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley for an IPO that could happen in the second half of 2019. With many confidential government contracts in place, it’s tough to know exactly what value the company could fetch, but according to company CEO Alex Karp, the books sound ripe to make Palantir's IPO one of 2019's largest.

Slack - After having successfully fended off acquisition efforts by both Microsoft and SalesForce, the workplace messaging platform Slack is also reportedly contemplating one of 2019's largest IPOs. With an estimated $7 billion valuation, and a newly appointed CFO, all indications seem to point to the company readying itself for an early 2019 IPO.

Pinterest - As one of the fastest growing competitors in its social media space, Pinterest was one of the only major social media platforms not to be racked by major scandal in 2018. And the company was rewarded handsomely for it. According to reports, in 2018 Pinterest saw revenues jump to more than $700 million. And according to The Wall Street Journal, with over 250 million monthly user, Pinterest is reportedly now looking at a $12 billion valuation.

AirBNB - After promising employees the company would go public in 2019 or 2020, it seems this may actually be the year the promise is realized. If AirBNB does go public it will certainly be one of the largest IPO’s of the year. While the home rental platform has not yet filed, anticipation remains high the company go be looking at one of the largest 2019 IPOs and at last reporting, AirBNB was valued at $31 billion.

Whether or not any or all of these company's choose to go public in 2019 remains to be seen. What does seem certain however is each will assuredly be one of the largest IPO's of 2019.

5 of the Largest Rounds of Funding for NYC-based Startups in 2018


2018 was a banner year for NYC-based startup funding. Below are five of the largest rounds of funding closed by NYC-based startups throughout 2018.


UiPath – $265M
Date: 11/15/18
Round: Series C
Industry: Automation, Enterprise Software, Information Technology, Robotics
Investors: 6 – Sequoia Capital, Meritech Capital Partners, Madrona Venture Group, IVP (Institutional Venture Partners), CapitalG, Accel
Company: Founded in 2005, UiPath is a software and automation robotics company. UiPath aims to streamline tedious tasks such as document management and data extraction and is currently used by thousands of companies. To date, UiPath has raised more than $448 million after four rounds of funding. This round was an additional $40 million to a Series C previously announced.


Oscar Health – $375M
Date: 8/14/18
Round: Corporate Round
Industry: Healthcare, Information Technology
Investors: 1 – Alphabet
Company: Founded in 2013, Oscar Health is a medical insurance company aimed at easing the process for its patients. The company offers individual, couple, and family plans, and is currently available in New York, New Jersey, California, and Texas. To date, Oscar Health has raised over $1.3 billion after eight rounds of funding.


Compass – $400M
Date: 9/27/18
Round: Series F
Industry: Real Estate
Investors: 4 – Softbank Vision Fund, Qatar Investment Authority, IVP (Institutional Venture Partners), Fidelity Investments
Company: Founded in 2012, Compass is a mobile app that pairs prospective real-estate buyers and sellers. With 30 offices in 19 regions, Compass caters to the luxury high end market.  To date, Compass has raised more than $1.2 billion after fourteen rounds of funding.


Letgo – $500M
Date: 8/8/18
Round: Series E
Industry: E-commerce, Online Shopping, Internet Marketplace
Investors: 1 – Naspers
Company: Founded in 2015, letgo is a free app that allows users to buy and sell products online. Using advanced AI technology, letgo allows users to take pictures of their products, then automatically identifies, categorizes, and lists them. According to the website, in their first two years in business, letgo’s app has been downloaded over 75 million times, and over 200 million items have been listed on the site. According to letgo, this makes them, ‘the largest and fastest growing app to buy and sell locally.’ To date, letgo has raised over $975 million after five rounds of funding.


Peloton – $550M
Date: 8/2/18
Round: Series F
Industry: Fitness, Cycling, Video Content
Investors: 10 – Winslow Capital, Wellington Management, True Ventures, Tiger Global Management, TCV, NBCUniversal, Kleiner Perkins, Fidelity Management and Research Company, Felix Capital, Balyasny Asset Mgt
Company: Founded in 2012, Peloton is a new high tech fitness concept that allows users live streaming access to elite fitness classes and instructors based in the NYC area. One of the standout stars of fitness from Silicon Alley, Peloton uses a specifically designed cycling hardware that merges with their software and content to revolutionize the at-home fitness space. To date, Peloton has raised over $994.7 million after eight rounds of funding.


Here's to hoping 2019 is even better!

NYC Startup Funding, Month-end Wrap-up: December 2018


December ended the year on a high-note for NYC startup funding. Several startups closed rounds of more than $100 million, with many more not far behind. Below are some of the largest rounds of NYC startup funding closed in December 2018.


The Wing - $75M
Date: 12/19/18
Round: Series C
Industry: Women's Coworking
Lead Investor: Sequoia Capital
Company: Founded in 2016, The Wing is a network of coworking spaces specifically designed for women. The company's mission is the 'professional, civic, social, and economic advancement of women.' To date, the company has raised over $117 million after five rounds of funding.


Bowery Farming - $90M
Date: 12/12/18
Round: Series B
Industry: Agriculture, Organic Foods, Robotics
Lead Investor: GV
Company: Founded in 2015, Bowery Farming says it's, 'on a mission to grow food for a better future by revolutionizing agriculture.' In order to do this, Bowery Farming uses robotics and indoor farming to produce optimal conditions to grow organic produce. To date, Bowery Farming has raised over $141 million after five rounds of funding.


Dataiku - $101M
Date: 12/18/18
Round: Series C
Industry: Big Data, AI, Enterprise Software, Analytics, Machine Learning
Lead Investor: ICONIQ Capital
Company: Founded in 2013, Dataiku provides the tools necessary to allow data scientists and analysts to perform machine learning on 'dirty' data sets.  With clients such as large as Unilever, GE, and Fox News, Dataiku is seen as a catalysts for these data-driven companies. To date, Dataiku has raised over $146 million after five rounds of funding.


InVision - $115M
Date: 12/11/18
Round: Series F
Industry: Digital Product Design, UX, Mobile Apps
Lead Investor: Spark Capital
Company: Founded in 2011, InVision is a digital product design platform boasting over 2 million users. According to their website, InVision is used by over 80% of the Fortune 100 companies to design their mobile apps, websites, and digital platforms. To date, InVision has raised over $350 million after eight rounds of funding.


Vroom - $146M
Date: 12/11/18
Round: Series G
Industry: Automotive, E-commerce, FinTech
Lead Investor: AutoNation
Company: Founded in 2013, Vroom is an online platform that allows people to buy, sell, and trade used cars within the United States. Customers can use the company app to search for their perfect car, find financing, and even arrange to have the car delivered directly to their house. To date, Vroom has raised over $440 million after eight rounds of funding.


Here's to a great 2019!

Altria Controversially Invests $12.8 Billion in Juul at a $38 Billion Valuation


It was announced recently, Altria Group - the owner of Philip Morris - will acquire a 35% in e-cigarette maker Juul Labs for $12.8 billion. The deal values Juul at $38 billion.

A Controversial Deal

The deal is not without critics however. According to Juul Labs CEO Kevin Burns, ‘We understand the controversy and skepticism that comes with an affiliation and partnership with the largest tobacco company in the US. We were skeptical as well. But over the course of the last several months we were convinced by actions, not words, that in fact this partnership could help accelerate our success switching adult smokers. We understand the doubt. We doubted as well.’

Assuaging Juul Employees

According to the terms of the deal, Altria’s stake in the company will be capped at this 35%. In order to assuage concerns of employees, it was also announced a $2 billion dividend will be set aside to be dispersed between Juul’s 1,500 employees. This dividend likely comes in response to dissatisfaction voiced by employees when news of the talks broke last month.

Advocacy Groups Alarmed

The announcement of the deal also has many advocacy groups up-in-arms. In responding to the deal, CEO and president of The Truth Initiative - famous for its anti-smoking campaigns - remarked, "This investment gives the tobacco industry direct access to a new pipeline of millions of youth e-cigarette users, most of whom were not smokers in the first place.”

Large Player in a Growing Industry

The vaping industry itself has been booming. The number of vapers in the United States has grown from just over 7 million in 2011, to more than 40 million in 2018. Currently, the global vaping market generates over $22 billion annually, as compared to just $4 billion five years ago. According to Grand View Research, this number is also expected to climb to over $47 billion by the year 2025. Juul is currently the industry's largest company.

Health Concerns Remain

The full extent of the health risks associated with e-cigarttes are not yet fully understood. However, some 49% of vape users do claim they use e-cigarttes to ween themselves from tobacco. Whether or not the long term effects of vaping are as bad as traditional cigarettes is yet to be determined.






Discord Raises $150 Million at $2 Billion Valuation


Video game chat platform Discord has reportedly raised $150 million in new funding at a $2 billion valuation. The round was led by Greenoaks Capital and saw participation from Firstmark, Tencent, IVP, Index Ventures, and Technology Opportunity Partners.

Discord: A Platform on the Rise

The new round of funding will reportedly be used to support the company’s new expansion into subscription and storefront markets. Earlier this year it was announced Discord would launch a beta version of it an online store which would allow gamers to purchase and play games directly within its platform. In a move away from simply being a communication platform, the new initiative seems to signal bigger ambitions for the company. 

In Direct Competition with the Market's Biggest Player

The move to open a gaming store will put Discord into more direct competition with the largest digital PC gaming distribution platform, Steam. Earlier this year, Steam was seen as encroaching into Discord’s territory when it announced the launch of its own chat platform within its site. In an effort to lure Steam's audience to its own site, Discord will sweeten the deal for developers who host their games on the Discord site by offering a 90/10 revenue split as opposed to Steam’s 70/30 split. Video gaming viewing site Twitch also remains a competitor in the space. 

Investors Are Interested

This is not the only large round of funding secured by the company recently. This past April, closed a $50 million round of funding at a $1.65 million valuation. Previous to this, the company had also closed a $20 million round of funding in participation with, Tencent. All told, the company has raised more than $280 million after six rounds of funding.

With more than 200 million active users, Discord is one of the largest online gaming communications platforms on the net. Since its launch in 2015, the company has grown to become a true forces within the online gaming industry, and with the launch of its new subscription and store front features, this presence only looks to increase. 

SoftBank to Invest $1 Billion in Grab


SoftBank is reportedly set to invest $1 billion from its Vision Fund into southeast Asian ride-hailing startup, Grab.

Grab: The Southeast Asian 'Super-app'

Currently, Grab's $11 billion valuation makes it the most valuable tech startup in southeast Asia. The company has been download over 130 million times and operates in 8 countries including Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Now with its plans to move into deliveries, healthcare, and mobile payments the company looks well-positioned to only grow stronger. Such ubiquitousness of use in the region in such varied fields has caused some to refer to the company as a, ‘super-app’.

The Company Has Investor's Attention

To date, the company has already raised over $6.5 billion after a remarkable 19 rounds of funding. In 2018 alone, the tech startup has already raised over $2.7 billion. This remarkable figure does not even include the pending $1 billion investment by SoftBank which will only increase the company’s $11 billion valuation.

SoftBank Doubles Down on Grab

This is not the first time SoftBank has invested in the company. In 2014, SoftBank was one of the early investors when it became the company's largest investor with a $250 million round. If SoftBank follows the same pattern it has when it invested in three other southeast asian tech unicorns, it will transfer the stake to its Vision Fund, then double down by investing in the company again from its Vision Fund.

How Grab Beat Uber in the Region

Grab garnered worldwide attention earlier this year when it out-maneuvered ride-share giant Uber for control of the region. After a long battle between the two companies, Grab emerged victorious when in March it successfully bought-out Uber’s southeast asian operations. This does not mean the company is without competition in the region however as Indonesian ride-share company Go-Jek raised a reported $1.2 billion earlier this year at a $9 billion valuation.

As to which ride-share company will ultimately control the booming southeast asian market remains unclear, but with the latest round of funding in place, Grab will remain positioned to do just that.

Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos Betting on Malta Inc.


Several of the world’s wealthiest people, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, have invested in a new energy storage company, Malta Inc.

Malta Inc.’s New Way of Storing Electricity

The company was created when secretive Google lab X moonshot, decided to spin-off the electricity storage project into its own company, Malta Inc. Malta Inc. uses molten salt to store electricity instead of traditional lithium ions. The new process promises to allow electricity to be stored more efficiently than the current methods. In a world increasingly reliant on batteries, many of the world’s top investors believe this new technology has potential for the future of energy storage.

An Impressive List of Investors

Recently Malta Inc. raised a $26 million round of Series-A round funding led by Bill Gates’, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, LLC. The Bill Gates led fund includes an impressive list of investors including Jeff Bezos, Ray Dalio, Michael Bloomberg, John Doerr, and SoftBank CEO, Masayoshi Son just to name a few. This is the first major round of funding closed by Malta Inc.

The Need for Variable Energy Storage in the 21st Century

The system uses large vats of molten salt to store energy from variable energy sources such as solar or wind, and facilities can be constructed almost anywhere. Such methods of storing energy produced by variable energy sources will be a crucial in the future as the world moves further away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. The state of California has said it intends to produced all its energy from carbon-free sources by the year 2045. Currently, as much as 30% of energy produced by variable sources in California is lost to inefficiencies in the system. Malta looks to reduce the figure. 

Malta Inc. has yet to construct a working prototype of the new facility, but all indications point they are on the path to doing so. According to company CEO Ramya Swaminathan, the company is considering China as the location for this pilot project.

How to Learn Anything in 20 Hours


Josh Kaufman is the #1 best selling author of ‘The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business’ and 'The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything Fast'. In what has become one of the most viewed TED Talks of all-time, Mr. Kaufman explains how it’s possible to learn anything we want to in only 20 hours. Below are some of his key points from his talk. 

Finding the Time

To begin his talk, Mr. Kaufman explains the feeling of not believing he would ever have free time again after the birth of his first child. To Josh Kaufman, this idea was upsetting because he loved learning new things, which takes a significant amount of free time. Mr. Kaufman was even more upset when he read that learning anything new takes 10,000 hours.

Distorting the 10,000 Hour Rule

This idea was upsetting to Mr. Kaufman because 10,000 hours roughly equates to a full-time job, for 5 years. Upon further research however, Mr. Kaufman learned that the 10,000 hour rule applies only to acquiring expert-level proficiency in a subject. In other words, according to Mr. Kaufman, 'It takes 10,000 hours to get to the top of an ultra-competitive field in a very narrow subject.’ Though this was the original message of the 10,000 hour rule, according to Mr. Kaufman this message had become distorted over the years, resulting in the notion that it takes 10,000 hours to learn something new. 

It Only Takes 20 Hours to Learn Something

Josh Kaufman soon found it does not take 10,000 hours to learn anything new. In fact, Mr. Kaufman asserts his research has shown that from starting a new skill, to becoming proficient in it, only takes 20 hours. 20 hours equates to roughly 45 minutes of practice a day, for 1 month. According to Mr. Kaufman, if you put 20 hours of focused deliberate practice into learning something new you will be ‘astounded at how good you are.’ 

Josh Kaufman's 4-Step Method to Learning Anything

However, according to Mr. Kaufman there is a proper and intelligent way to practice in order to learn a new skill. In order to do this, Mr. Kaufman offers his 4 Step Method:

1. Deconstruct the Skill - This means deciding exactly what it is you want to learn, then breaking the skill down into smaller and smaller pieces. According to Mr. Kaufman, most skills are made up of other smaller skills so if we can get good at these smaller skills first first, we will be able to get better at the larger skill even more quickly.

2. Learn Enough to Self-Correct - Next, Mr. Kaufman suggests getting 3-5 sources on the subject and referencing them only to self-correct as we practice. To be clear, Mr. Kaufman does not suggest using these resources to procrastinate from the actual practicing of the skill. Instead, Mr. Kaufman asserts it is in the practicing that we learn the skill, so the 3-5 references should only be used to make sure we’re on the right course as we continue to practice. 

3. Remove Barriers to Practice - Again, as stated above the most important thing to learning a new skill is intentional practice. Thus, it is imperative to remove any barriers in the way of this intentional practice. This includes eliminating distractions from TV and internet, and anything else that will prevent us from actually sitting down and do the work. 

4. Practice at Least 20 Hours - Again, as stated above 20 hours is about 45 minutes a day for a month. According to Mr. Kaufman, the knowledge that we will acquire the skill we aim to learn if we complete these 20 hours of intentional practice should be enough to motivate us to keep going in order to learn the new skill.

Start at the Beginning

Josh Kaufman suggests if we follow this method, we can learn anything in 20 hours. To test his theory, Mr. Kaufman personally decided he’d learn to play the ukulele. Mr. Kaufman, didn’t own a ukulele, so he said the first few hours consisted of buying the equipment, strings, etc. This is only natural. According to Mr. Kaufman, often the first few hours of learning a new skill are dedicated to acquiring all the tools you will need in order to start practicing.

Putting it Into Practice

Once Mr. Kaufman had his ukulele, had it tuned, and was ready to practice, it was time for him to learn some chords. This seemed overwhelming because the book he had purchased has hundreds of chords in it. However, going back to step 1, Mr. Kaufman broke down these skills down into smaller parts and realized most pop songs were built off the same four basic chords. According to Josh Kaufman, this is similar to most skills: there are some core, simple, building block elements that are really important and used all the time. Thus, if we can learn these core elements, we will go a long way to learning the skill we desire to. By learning these four simple chords, Mr. Kaufman then demonstrated how he was able to learn to play hundreds of recent pop songs.

The Major Barrier is Not Intellectual, It's Emotional

In closing, Mr. Kaufman suggests, ‘the major barrier to learning something new is not intellectual, it’s emotional’. By this, Mr. Kaufman means it can be easy to become discouraged by the idea of how hard it is to learn something new. However, as Mr. Kaufman asserts, we should take solace in the idea that if we simply put in 20 hours of intentional practice we too can soon learn anything we want.



SpaceX Raising $500 Million at $30.5 Billion Valuation


The Elon Musk-owned SpaceX is reportedly raising a $500 million round of funding at a $30.5 billion valuation.

Funds to be Used in SpaceX's Starlink Program

According to the Wall Street Journal report, the round of funding will go toward the company’s ambitious new Starlink program. The program intends to put 11,000 low-orbital satellites in operation in order to blanket the planet with high-speed internet connectivity.

The Advantages of Low-Orbital Satellites

While low-orbit satellites tend to fall into the earth’s atmosphere and burn up sooner than standard communication or geosynchronous satellites, the lower orbit does offer several advantages. First, at only 550 kilometers above the earth’s surface, servicing the satellites is much more possible. Also, at lower-orbit the satellites tends to create a stronger signal, as well as faster signal due to the the distance the signal needs to travel being reduced by nearly half.

SpaceX Has Investors Intrigued

This is not the only large round of funding closed by SpaceX recently. Just last month, the company raised a reported $250 million through the sale of a high-yield loan. In order to close the most recent round, SpaceX is reportedly courting one of its largest investors in the Tesla brand, Scottish firm, Baillie Gifford & Co. If the round of funding is successful, SpaceX will have raised over $2.5 billion of equity funding to date.

A History of Ambitious Goals

Starlink is just the latest in the SpaceX’s ambitious undertakings. Last year, company owner Elon Musk made headlines when he announced his intentions for a rocket-powered terrestrial travel system capable of allowing flights to take passengers from New York to Shanghai in just 39 minutes. The announcement was only the latest in a serious of ambitious statements by the company founder, including his very public assertion the company will someday soon be able to colonize Mars.

Founded in 2002, SpaceX has been the crown-jewel of the Elon Musk commercial empire. Along with the company, Musk has also launched the Tesla company, as well as co-founding digital pay system, PayPal. As of October of 2018, Musk’s personal worth was estimated to sits at $22.8 billion.

Niantic Raising $200 Million at $3.9 Billion Valuation


The Wall Street Journal recently reported Niantic Inc., the developer behind ‘Pokemon Go’, is currently raising a $200 million round of Series-C funding at a $3.9 billion valuation.

A History of Large Rounds of Funding

The round is reportedly being led by venture firm IVF with participation from Samsung Electronics and aXiomatic Gaming LLC. Last year, Niantic also raised $200 million in Series-B funding at a reported $2.7 billion valuation. That round was led by Spark Capital with participation from Javelin Venture Partners and the Founders Fund. After the most recent round closes, the company will have raised over $425 million after four rounds of funding.

The Technology that Sets Niantic Apart

Niantic gained prominence in 2016 when its Pokemon Go game exploded onto the mobile gaming scene. The game was the first widely-successful offering to utilize augmented reality (AR) technology; a technology which places the gaming world over a map of the real world. AR technology lays at the heart of Niantic's business and is key to the company’s success.

The Supernova Success of Pokemon Go

Less than two years after launching, Pokemon Go has been downloaded a reported 800 million times and has generated over $2 billion in revenue. For comparison, only 4 movies in history have ever earned more than $2 billion at the box office. In response to the overwhelming popularity of the Pokemon Go game, the company is also developing a Harry Potter AR-styled game which promises to be another success and is planned to be released sometime in 2019.

Niantic Opens Platform to Third Party Developers

Along with the success of its own games, earlier this year Niantic also announced it will open its platform to third party developers. The move could potentially have implications in fields as wide-ranging as medicine and entertainment. In commenting on the decision to open the platform to outside developers, company CEO John Hanke remarked, ‘'Because we are so excited about the opportunity in advanced AR, we want other people to be able to make use of the Niantic Real World Platform to build innovative experiences that connect the physical and the digital in ways that we haven't yet imagined.'