2019-09-29 — slate.com
It's just not (with the exception of Beyond Meat) the names you know. The important distinction might be between software companies, like Facebook or Palantir or Oracle, and those that have to muddy their hands in the world of gig workers and real estate and manufacturing. In the latter group are companies like Peloton--a business that makes stationary bicycles but calls itself an "automated vehicle technology company"--or Uber, which is a taxi and delivery company but says it just runs a "marketplace." Or Sweetgreen, a salad chain valued at $1.6 billion that, according to its chief executive, "doesn't consider [itself] just a salad place" because, apparently, many salads are ordered through an app. Or Blue Apron. Or WeWork, which is evidently a real estate company with a founder who could convincingly play the role of tech CEO.
As Ben Thompson points out in Stratechery, it's in those hybrid firms that the big losses are occurring--not just a lack of profits (which again, appears to be par for the course), but a lack of confidence there ever will be profits. "Looking at 29 U.S. tech IPOs over the past two years, 20 have increased in market cap over their offering price, and all of them are pure tech companies with high margins," Thompson writes. Adding an additional 100 users costs nothing to Adobe or Citrix; for WeWork, it requires a big new 10-year lease--and a huge red mark on the balance sheet. You can't code your way out of a skyscraper.
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