Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.
This week, we were a man down, with the excellent Alex Wilhelm of Crunchbase News on a vacation that someone seems to have sanctioned, though it was not us, as we don’t believe in vacations. (Wilhelm, get back here.) We did, happily, have the very knowledgeable Kirsten Korosec of TechCrunch join us on the line; we were also joined by this week’s personable in-studio guest: Lauren Kolodny, a partner at the San Francisco-based, early-stage venture firm Aspect Ventures.
It was the perfect mix to talk about car makers and more car makers, including Tesla and CEO Elon Musk’s seemingly ill-planned plans to take the publicly traded company private, then vacillating a bit before changing his mind again, much to the chagrin of his board, the company’s shareholders, and poor Kirsten, who was trying to enjoy her evening last Friday when Musk decided (for now) to leave well enough alone and drop the whole cockamamie idea of switching out Tesla’s investor base.
We also talked about Toyota’s announcement this week that it’s sinking $500 million into Uber and forming an intriguing if confusing driverless-car pact in the process. And we lingered on Nio, a four-year-old, Shanghai-based electric car vehicle that, if it has its way, will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange in roughly two weeks — even though it only made $7 million in the first half of this year and reported a net loss of $503 million. Who’s counting, though? Not U.S. investors, it hopes.
Speaking of IPOs, we knew we’d be remiss not to talk about the IPO filing this week of SurveyMonkey, a now 19-year-old, San Mateo, Ca., company that’s beloved by both personal and business users of its analytical tools and surveys, but which is still not making money, owing in part to expensive debt that the company is currently servicing (and will pay down using its IPO proceeds). Will public shareholders embrace the company, which was last valued at $2 billion during its last private round in 2014 but whose value has subsequently been marked down by fully 25 percent since by fund manager Fidelity? Stay tuned!
We did not get to our favorite topic of scooters, running out time to chat about this major development and also this one. Knowing how much we love to toot about les scoots, rest assured that they will back next week, as will we, so tune in again then!