The Brilliant Approach that Allowed Hims to Reach Unicorn Status in One Year

Though founded just over a year ago, Hims' novel approach to issues of a men’s health has already allowed the company to raise more than $197 million at a reported $1 billion valuation.

A Brilliant Approach to Treating ED

The company, which specializes in men’s healthcare products was able to capitalize on Viagra’s patent expiration and developed its own ED medication using the same active ingredient. Customers consult discreetly with an online physician, then the product is sent directly to the customer’s home. In a move away from Viagra’s targeting of the older male demographic however, Hims markets primarily to a much younger demographic, often under the age of forty, and conveys the common nature of the issue through social media and celebrity sponsored ads in an effort to reduce the stigma surrounding ED treatment.

Addressing Other Men's Wellness Issues

In much the same way as its ED treatment, Hims has also taken a similar approach in manufacturing and marketing its men's hair-loss treatment. Once Merck’s patent on Propecia expired in 2014, Hims was again free to repurpose the active ingredient and sell it as its own treatment. It also doesn't hurt that one of the most common side effects of Propecia is impotence. Along with ED and hair-loss, Hims also addresses the embarrassing problem of cold sores which it combats with a pill containing the active ingredient in Valtrex, whose patent expired in 2009. All of these medications, as well as skin creams and supplements and a new women’s line, are all aggressively targeted in fun and clever ways towards a younger consumer.

An Approach That Pays

So far, the approach seems to be working. It was reported yesterday, Hims will be closing a new round of Series C funding for $100 million. The pre-money valuation of this latest round of funding has reportedly pushed the value of the company over $1 billion. This latest round of funding comes less than seven months after the company closed its last round of funding, a Series B round for $50 million. To date, Hims has raised more than $197 million after eight rounds of funding.

An Optimistic Future

While some investors balked at the $1 billion pre-money valuation, company co-founder and CEO Andrew Dudum remained undeterred. In a recent interview Dudum remarked, ‘We think what we’re building is a $10-20 billion company in the next few years.’ Whether or not the company will reach this valuation remains to be seen, but for now, Hims see,s off to a very good start.


The Super Life of Stan Lee

 

On November 12, 2018 legendary comic book creator Stan Lee, who was responsible for so much of the Marvel Universe, passed away at the age of ninety-five. Lee co-created many beloved characters such as Spider-Man, The Hulk, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, The X-Men, Iron Man, and Thor, just to name a few. Today, Ignitia looks back at a true comic book hero.

Stan Lee's Early Life

Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Leiber on December 28, 1922, in Manhattan, NY. As a child growing during the Great Depression, Lee said he was influenced largely by the books of Errol Flynn, particularly those in which he played a hero. As a teen, Lee dreamed of writing the Great American Novel, and upon graduating joined the WPA Federal Theatre Company.

Creating His First Characters

At the age of seventeen in 1939, Lee joined the new Timely Comics division of The Martin Goodman company. By the 1960’s, Timely Comics had become Marvel Comics. At the time Lee was only an assistant. His duties included getting lunch, filling inkwells, and proofreading. But he moved up fast. Lee’s first real assignment was as a text filler on the third issue of, Captain America. Two issues later, he was given an actual writing assignment: writing for ‘Headline’ Hunter, Foreign Correspondent’. Two years later, Stan Lee co-created his very first original character, The Destroyer. During this same he also co-created Jack Frost, and Father Time, both for the Captain America comic.

How The Justice League Revived Marvel

That same year in 1941, due to departures by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Stan Lee was promoted to editor. Eventually, Stan would be promoted to editor-in-chief, a position he would remain in until 1972. In 1942 however, Stan was called to serve the nation in the second World War. After the war, in the 1950’s Timely had become Atlas Comics, and most of Stan’s time was filled writing romance, Western, sci-fi, and fiction stories. That was, until later in the 1950’s when DC Comics renewed the national interest in super hero comics with the revival of, The Justice League series.

The Birth of the Marvel Universe

In response to DC’s move, Stan Lee was charged with coming up with new superheroes for Atlas Comics. In creating his characters, Lee decided to make them more human, giving them flaws as opposed to the nearly perfect superheroes of the past. By giving these characters complexity, and flaws, such as bad tempers, vanity, and insecurity he made them more relatable. Soon, Stan partnered with Jack Kirby to create the Fantastic Four. The team was a huge success. From there the pair also co-created, The Hulk, Iron Man, The X-Men, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and eventually Spider Man. All of these character existed in the same universe, and eventually Lee and Kirby would put them all, as well as Captain America onto one team known as, The Avengers.

A Champion of Justice and Equal Rights

By 1966, The Amazing Spider Man had become the company’s most popular comic. In writing the comic, Stan Lee focused as much on the characters' personal lives as he did on the big action sequences. The characters addressed the current political and social issues of the day such as the Vietnam war. In 1967, when the character of Robbie Robertson was introduced to The Amazing Spider Man, it was first time an African-American character played a major role in the comics. Shortly thereafter, the character of Black Panther created.

Later Years, Accolades, and a Grateful Fanbase

Stan Lee remained with Marvel through the 1970’s and 1980’s creating graphic novels and television shows. In the 1990’s Stan Lee created his own company called, Stan Lee Media. As Marvel Studios took off, Stan Lee remained intimately involved with many of the projects, and made many cameos in the powerhouse movies. In almost every Marvel Movie that’s come out since the 1990’s, Stan Lee is credited as an executive producer. In 2010, the Stan Lee Foundation was launched to promote literacy, education, and the arts. Stan Lee was presented with the Vanguard Award by the Producer’s Guild of America in 2012, and passed away due to natural causes at the age of ninety-five on November 12, 2018. Legions of fans mourn the passing of a true legend who created so many of the character who made their lives so much brighter.

Excelsior!


Google Buys New Property for $1 Billion

 

It was reported recently Google has paid $1 billion for a new office park in Mountain View, California. The purchase brings the total amount spent by the tech giant on property to more than $3 billion over the past two years.

Google Has Spent $3 Billion on Silicon Valley Property Over the Past Two Years

The property is a familiar one for Google. The tech company was already the main tenant of the 12 building, 51.8 acre Shoreline Technology Park, but will now own the property outright. The purchase is part of $2.8 billion spent by the company over the past two years on property in-and-around Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and San Jose. Add to this the parking lots and government-owned parcels in downtown San Jose, and the tech company has purchased more than $3 billion in property over the period.

Bolstering Google's Mountain View Headquarters

The new Mountain View property sits just a blocks from Google’s headquarters. According to Chad Leiker, vice president of the commercial real estate firm Kidder Mathews, “This is an opportunity for Google to own more office space very close to their headquarters. That office space is becoming very rare in Mountain View.”

The deal appears to be part of Google’s plans for the future as well. According to Mr. Leiker, “This latest deal in Mountain View could be a case, as they have done in other areas, of Google land-banking properties for higher-density uses later. They have bought a huge tranche of properties.” The location also sits directly across the street from the site where Google plans to build its new iconic ‘dome’ campus as well.

Buying Property Outside of Silicon Valley

Along with the Mountain View site, Google has also been spending outside the area as well. Earlier in November, Google agreed to purchase a new property in San Jose for $110 million. The purchase consists of 10.5 acres of downtown property with the option to purchase another 11 acres at a later date. Earlier this year Google also paid $2.4 billion for a New York City property in the Chelsea Market of Manhattan. All of this buying seems to signal Google plans to further expand in the U.S. for years to come.  


Luckin Coffee's Amazing Road to Its $4 Billion Valuation

 

Chinese-based coffee chain Luckin Coffee announced yesterday it raised $200 million in Series-B funding, giving the company a valuation of $2.2 billion.

Luckin Coffee's Explosive Growth

Luckin Coffee is currently the fastest growing coffee chain in China. Founded in 2017, Luckin Coffee has already expanded to over 1,700 and 21 cities across the country. This is a truly stunning expansion considering China’s largest coffee chain Starbucks has just 3,300 stores despite having entered the market over 20 years ago. The round of funding is also the second large round closed by the company this year. In July, the company raised another $200 million round of Series-A funding, which at the time gave the company a $1 billion valuation. Luckin Coffee is currently the fastest startup to reach unicorn status in China.

The Appeal of Luckin Coffee

One of the main draws of Luckin Coffee has been its focus on very fast door-to-door coffee delivery. This is a feature which appeals to many in the urban work setting who can’t get away from their desk. Along with in-store sit-down cafes, Luckin has concentrated on creating pickup booths and delivery hubs where dedicated take-out workers quickly pickup orders. In China's largest cities of Beijing and Shanghai, the company claims there is a Luckin Coffee within 500-meters of anywhere in the city and says it will deliver coffee to customers within 30 minutes.

How Luckin Coffee is Challenging Starbucks

Luckin's explosive expansion does not look to be letting up any time soon. According to company CEO Qian Zhiya, “We will continue to increase capital investment in product research and development, technological innovation and business development, and continue to optimize product and user experience.” According to Euromonitor, Starbucks still maintains an 80% share of the $3.4 billion Chinese coffee shop business, but this may soon be changing. In response to Luckin’s aggressive delivery tactics, Starbucks has since partnered with Alibaba-owned food delivery giant Ele.me in order to compete to delivery coffee to people’s door.

Whether or not Luckin will be able to eclipse the behemoth in China that is Starbucks remains to be seen, but what is certain is it is off to a great start.


ClassDojo Raises Additional $35 Million in Funding

ClassDojo, the messaging app allowing parents and teachers to contact one another, has raised an additional $35 million in Series C funding. 

Funding for the Future

The latest round was led jointly by GSV and SignalFire and also saw participation from General Catalyst and Uncork Capital. According to reports, the new round of funding will be used in one of two ways: First, to continue the expansion of the popular messaging app; and second, to develop a new subscription service called 'Beyond School', which provides parents with at-home tutoring lessons to bolster their students’ current lessons. 

A Y-Combinator Graduate on the Rise

Founded in 2011, ClassDojo is a platform that allows parents and teachers to remain in communication regarding their students’ schoolwork, projects, and schedule updates. After starting out as part of Y-Combinator, ClassDojo has now expanded to more than 180 countries world-wide. While the company has not revealed an official valuation, reports state the company is now worth more than $400 million; an impressive increase from the $100 million reported valued just back in 2015. To date, ClassDojo has raised more than $65 million after four rounds of funding. 

A Global Success

The reason for the impressive jump in valuation is due in part to the seeming ubiquitousness of the app. According to ClassDojo, the app is now used by 95% of K-to-eighth grade schools in the U.S., and is also said to be used by more than 25% of primary schools in the U.K., Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the UAE. According to company CEO and co-founder Sam Chaudhary, “Learning is so much about having strong relationships,” Chaudhary said. “It’s pretty cool to see the effect this can have not just with parents and teachers, but between parents and kids.” 

For ClassDojo, it truly appears the sky is the limit. 


NYC Startup Funding, Month-end Wrap-up: February 2019

February continued a solid start to the year for NYC-based startup funding. Below are five of the largest rounds of funding closed by NYC-based startups over the course of February 2019.

Aetion - $27M
Date: 2/5/19
Round: Series B
Industry: Healthcare, Enterprise Software
Lead Investor: N/A
Company: Founded in 2013, Aetion is a healthcare technology company that provides analytics and evidence for the improvement of patient care. The company's patented rapid-cycle analytics™ and the Aetion Evidence Platform™ deliver real-world evidence for life sciences companies, payers, and at-risk providers. To date, Aetion has raised over $74.6 million after three rounds of funding.

Chainalysis - $30M
Date: 2/12/19
Round: Series B
Industry: Fintech, Cryptocurrency, Financial Exchange
Lead Investor: Accel
Company: Founded in 2014, Chainalysis is a company designing and developing anti-money laundering software for Bitcoin businesses. According to Chainalysis, its products include, 'REACTOR, an interactive and investigation tool that identifies offenders, visualizes data, and shares results with people and organizations, and API, a transaction based risk scoring solution that contains source and destination of funds to measure risk.' To date, Chainalysis has raised more than $47.6 million after four rounds of funding.

VAST Data - $40M
Date: 2/26/19
Round: Series B
Industry: Data Storage, Software
Lead Investor: N/A
Company: Founded in 2016, VAST Data is an enterprise data storage infrastructure provider. According to VAST Data, their mission is to, 'bring an end to decades of complexity and application bottlenecks that have been caused by mechanical media and by the complex tiering of data across different types of storage systems.' To date, VAST Data has raised more than $80 million after three rounds of funding.  

HiberCell - $60.8M
Date: 2/7/19
Round: Series A
Industry: Biotechnology
Lead Investor: ARCH Venture Partners
Company: Founded in 2016, HiberCell is a biotechnology company specializing in the development of novel therapeutics to prevent relapse and metastasis. According to HiberCell, 'We are the first company exclusively focused on therapeutically modulating the biology and mechanisms of tumor dormancy.' To date, HiberCell has raised $60.8 million after one round of funding.

YieldStreet - $62M
Date: 2/26/19
Round: Series B
Industry: Fintech, Financial Services, Wealth Management
Lead Investor: Edison Partners
Company: Founded in 2015, YieldStreet is an investment platform allowing investors to effortlessly participate in curated investments with low market correlation and high yield, across litigation finance, real estate, and other alternative asset classes. To date, YieldStreet has raised more than $178.5 million after five rounds of funding.


Lalamove Officially Gains Unicorn Status

Hong Kong-based delivery startup Lalamove has reportedly raised a $300 million round of Series D funding at a +$1 billion valuation.

A Huge Southeast Asian Presence

Founded in 2013, Lalamove is a ride-haling delivery and logistics company like similar to Uber, which focusing on business and corporate clientele. The company - which operates out of mainland China - has over 2 million drivers across more than 130 cities, and boasts more than 28 million active users. Outside of China, Lalamove operates in seven other Asian countries, including Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Thailand. The latest round of funding is anticipated to be used to further expansion into southeast Asia and India.

The Latest Large Round of Funding

The latest $300 million round of Series D funding will reportedly be split in to two halves: Hillhouse Capital will lead the ‘D1' portion, and Sequoia China will lead the ‘D2’ tranche. The exact size of each half has not been disclosed. Previous to this, Lalamove closed a $100 million round of Series C funding in 2017. To date, Lalamove has raised more than $460 million after seven rounds of funding.

Firmly in Unicorn Territory

According to reports, the latest round of funding places Lalamove firmly into unicorn status. However, according to company head of international Blake Larson, Lalamove has been, “past the unicorn mark for quite some time [but] we just don’t talk about it.” The company was reportedly just shy of a $1 billion valuation when it closed its $100 million round of Series C funding.

A 21st Century Founder and CEO

Lalamove was founded in 2013 by Stanford graduate, Shing Chow. According to Sequoia China founder and managing partner Neil Shen, “Shing is a role model for Hong Kong’s new generation of innovative entrepreneurs. Raised in Hong Kong and educated at Stanford University, Shing returned and plunged himself in the entrepreneurial wave of ‘Internet Plus,’ becoming a figure of entrepreneurial success.” By all accounts, the future seems very bright for the young CEO.


Opendoor to Raise $200 Million at $3.7 Billion Valuation

It was announced Friday that real estate startup Opendoor filed paperwork in the state of Delaware indicating its intent to raise $200 million in funding at a $3.7 billion valuation. 

A Huge New Round of Funding

According to the paperwork, the shares are described as ‘Series E-2’, which according to reports, likely means the latest round will be an extension of the company’s latest existing round of funding. That round - which closed in September of last year - initially closed for $400 million and was led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund. The new round will likely be added to that. To date, Opendoor has raised more than $1 billion after six rounds of funding. The announcement comes just months after one of Opendoor's main competitors - Knock - announced it had raised $400 million in its own round of Series B funding.

A New Way of Home-Buying

Opendoor aims to streamline the home-buying process. In order to do this, Opendoor plays the middle-man between buyers and sellers. As the company explains their role, “If you’re selling, sell your home to us to eliminate the hassles of showings and months of uncertainty. If you’re buying, we make it incredibly easy to tour hundreds of Opendoor homes so you can find the perfect one.” This model is similar to Knock, which purchases the house from the seller outright then collects a fee. 

A Company on the Rise

According to reports, more than 800,000 people toured an Opendoor home in 2018. Of those 800,000, Opendoor claims it has served over 30,000 customers. These customers are distributed across 19 metro regions in 20 cities. The company also states it currently has more than 2,000 monthly customers. To date, Opendoor has managed to attract more than 36 investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, SoftBank, GV, and others.


Electric Truck Startup Rivian Raises $700 Million

Electric auto-maker Rivian has announced it closed a $700 million round of equity funding led by Amazon.

The New Company on the Block

Reuters reported last week the company was in talks with GM and Amazon to lead the round of funding. Though GM did not ultimately participate, Amazon led the round. The funding comes just three months after the company announced its first two vehicles: a fully electric pickup, and an electric model SUV. Both vehicles will put the new company in direct competition with Tesla.

Amazon is Impressed

In a statement regarding the recent round of funding, Amazon CEO of Worldwide Consumers Jeff Wilke stated, “We’re inspired by Rivian’s vision for the future of electric transportation. RJ has built an impressive organization, with a product portfolio and technology to match. We’re thrilled to invest in such an innovative company.” Despite the latest equity round of funding led by the internet giant, Rivian insists it will remain an independent company. 

A Proud CEO

In response to the latest round of funding Rivian CEO, RJ Scaringe also remarked, “This investment is an important milestone for Rivian and the shift to sustainable mobility. Beyond simply eliminating compromises that exist around performance, capability and efficiency, we are working to drive innovation across the entire customer experience. Delivering on this vision requires the right partners, and we are excited to have Amazon with us on our journey to create products, technology and experiences that reset expectations of what is possible.”

Amazon's Move Toward Vehicles

Though Amazon led the round, just how much the tech giant invested has not been made public. The move comes mere weeks after Amazon joined Sequoia and Lightspeed Venture Partners in acquiring a stake in the autonomous vehicle startup, Aurora. Whether or not the two companies fit into a larger vision for Amazon remains to be seen. 

Building a Better Pickup

Both of Rivian’s models will feature a 180 kilowatt-hour battery pack. The battery pack - which is nearly twice the size of Tesla’s - boasts a range of more than 400 miles under optimal conditions. Such features may prove Rivian can capture the elusive market of a competitive battery-powered pickup.

Both models are expected to be made available sometime in 2020.  


DoorDash Raising $500 Million at $6 Billion Valuation

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that food delivery startup DoorDash is in the process of raising a $500 million round of funding. 

Terms of the Deal

According to the report, the round would value the company at somewhere between $6 and $7 billion. The news comes just days after one of DoorDash’s main competitors, Postmates, filed confidentially for an IPO. According to the report, the round will be led by Singaporean state investment firm Tamasek Holdings Pte. 

A Solid Track Record

This is not be the only large round of funding closed by DoorDash recently. Last year, DoorDash raised $250 million in Series E funding. At the time that round valued the company at $4 billion and was led by DST Global and Coatue Management. Previous investors in the company have included Kleiner Perkins, SoftBank, Sequoia, and others. To date, DoorDash has raised more than $1 billion after seven rounds of funding. 

Expanding to All 50 States

Earlier this year, DoorDash made news when it
officially entered all fifty states. In a statement regarding the move, company
co-founder and CEO Tony Xu remarked, “In the past year alone we’ve more than
quintupled our geographic footprint from 600 to 3,300 cities across North
America, democratizing access to door-to-door delivery for hundreds of
millions of Americans across the nation.”

A Rising Star in the Food Delivery Space

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, DoorDash retains an 18% market-share of the food delivery services. GrubHub remains the leader with a 34% market-share. According to the report, DoorDash was also able to grow at a faster rate than any of its competitors over the first-half of last year. Other companies in direct competition in the U.S. food delivery market also include UberEats, and the aforementioned Postmates.

Just how much of the market share the new round of funding will allow DoorDash to gain remains to be seen, but at a $6 billion valuation investors certainly seem willing to let them try.