🏦 Going public: Affirm, Robinhood, Roblox, Sofi


January 8, 2021

PLUS: Apple vs. Tile.
January 8, 2021
The Hustle
TOGETHER WITH
Cytonics

In the aftermath of protesters’ storming of the Capitol — and following moves from tech platforms to limit his accounts — President Donald Trump said in a video statement that it’s “time to heal” and ensured a “seamless transition of power” to President-elect Joe Biden.

The Big Idea
Bitcoin

Is blockchain coming to your bank?

On Wednesday evening, the collective value of all cryptocurrencies crossed $1T (with a frickin “T”). And on Thursday, Bitcoin, the most prominent coin, hit $40k — 2x its price from just a month ago.

While these are huge milestones for the industry, it may not even be the most consequential ones of the week.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) — a bank-regulating bureau within the Treasury Department — has issued guidance saying banks may adopt certain blockchain technologies.

Specifically, chartered banks can deploy stablecoins, which are more… er… stable than other crypto because they’re pegged to other assets.

The OCC has been very forward-looking on payments…

… since a former Coinbase executive, Brian Brooks, took over the bureau in May 2020.

According to Forbes, Brooks has previously:

  • Issued guidance allowing banks to custody cryptocurrencies
  • Created a special payment charter for fintech firms

One DC lawyer said the OCC was similarly ahead of the pack on internet banking, and the latest guidance (AKA an interpretative letter) will help make crypto more mainstream.

What does this really mean?

Jeremy Allaire, CEO of blockchain payments startup Circle, says the OCC’s move is important because it:

  • Allows banks to treat blockchain like other payments infrastructure (e.g., SWIFT, ACH)
  • Enables banks to use decentralized and faster settlement technology
  • Creates a path for the US to create its own digital currency (AKA a “USDC”)

Furtner, Forbes notes that there’s a huge opportunity to improve the speed of cross-border transactions if US banks deploy blockchain.

The changes are happening too fast for some

In November, 6 members of Congress criticized the OCC for moving “unilaterally” on crypto regulation.

The OCC itself acknowledges that banks must expand “compliance programs” to deal with any blockchain-related transactions.

Meanwhile, another US bureau with the Treasury Department, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), released more stringent rules on data collection for digital wallets.

Crypto is moving fast, but there are still some hurdles to clear until the next trillion (with a frickin’ “T”) in market value is created.

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Snippets
  • Speaking of the OCC, it’s working with the offices of the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and FDIC to probe AmEx’s business-card sales practices… which may be “aggressive and misleading.”
  • GM outsells Ford in trucks for the first time since 2015. Why is this a big truckin’ deal? The large truck market generates most of the profits for automakers (just behind branded air fresheners… jk).
  • Struum wants to “streamline your streaming.” Picture it like an entertainment Golden Corral — you get to pick and choose what you want from a vast buffet of lesser-known streaming services, minus the risk of food poisoning.
  • New OpenAI can generate images from text. DALL-E can manipulate imagery and even create new visuals, which has graphic designers everywhere sweating. Don’t worry, it can’t wear cool hoodies and Doc Martens to the office yet.
  • Hopin buys livestreaming startup for $250m. StreamYard scaled to $30m in annual recurring revenue without so much as a sniff of outside money, and will retain their own brand moving forward.
  • Two Elon Musk-dates: 1) He’s now the richest man in the world, and 2) he recommends switching to Signal for your messaging thanks to their encryption practices.
  • Music rights fund Hipgnosis is on a spending spree in 2021. Per Dan Runcie, it has scooped up ½ of Neil Young’s catalog (for $150m), as well as Jimmy Iovine’s work — including royalties for Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (Hipgnosis is def trying).
 
Stonks
Roblox

Coming soon to a trading app near you (Source: Roblox)

Going public madness: Affirm, Robinhood, Roblox, SoFi

Following the gangbuster IPOs of DoorDash and Airbnb at the end of 2020, 2 other firms with public listing plans — Roblox and Affirm — pulled back to survey the field.

Now, they’re back:

  • Affirm, America’s leading “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) fintech firm, just closed its $264m acquisition of Canadian BNPL player PayBright and is targeting a $9B IPO. (We wrote more on the risks and opportunities of Affirm here.)
  • Roblox, which was targeting an IPO price of ~$8B in November, will now do a direct listing at a slightly higher number: ~$30B (!!). During the pandemic, the sandbox game — which is extremely popular among the under-13 crowd — has seen crazy high engagement (we wrote more on Roblox’s wild 2020 here.)
  • Robinhood: The popular trading app — valued at $11.7B and with 13m+ users — is considering selling some of its IPO shares directly to users on its app. This is unusual, as retail investors typically don’t get allocated pre-IPO shares, and instead must get into markets on the first-day trading rush (at inflated prices).
  • SoFi will go public via a SPAC backed by billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya. This move will value the online lender at $8.65B, up from its most previous private round of $5.7B.
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SPONSORED

How Cytonics is disrupting the $180B market for osteoarthritis treatment

Invest in Cytonics here.

Just how big of a pain is osteoarthritis? 

(Statistically speaking, not “how bad my fingers feel after a full day of typing” speaking.)

  • Over 27M are treated for arthritis-related pain in the US alone
  • By 2030, 25% of the adult population is expected to be effected
  • Current treatments only focus on easing symptoms, not halting the cause

A treatment that successfully addresses the root cause of osteoarthritis would tap into an $180B market — and Cytonics has done just that with their first-in-class innovative treatment:

Alpha-2-Macroglobulin protein injections.

This cutting-edge approach attacks osteoarthritis at the molecular level and has the potential to disrupt the $180B industry, making Cytonics what some copywriters might call “a veeeeery interesting investment opportunity.”

*Tents fingers like a finance TikTok influencer*

Interested in learning more and investing in Cytonics? Check out their invest page here for the full details:

More on Cytonics →
In Hand
Tile

Tile hopes its new AR tech can help locate market share…as Apple looms

Think about the times you lost your keys or wallet… and then your mind. That’s why Tile’s raised $104m to find your stuff.

Per TechCrunch, the company now has plans to release an item tracker with UWB (ultra-wideband) and AR tech to rival Apple’s long-rumored AirTags.

A strong point for Tile is its crowdsourced network

The company has sold 30m+ trackers that are said to locate ~6m items per day across 230 countries and territories.

Tile hopes the new tech and a deal to partner with Amazon’s neighborhood-based Wi-Fi network Sidewalk (acquisition inbound?) can propel it forward.

But when rumors swirl about an Apple product called “Air[anything]s”…

… Competition — looking at you, Tile — should be worried

AirPods quickly went from being a laughingstock to an essential gadget and made up nearly 50% of wireless headphones sold in 2019. AirPod revenue in 2020 may hit $18B (more than 2x the combined 2020 revenue for Snap, Twitter, and Shopify).

AirTags will likely employ many of Tile’s anticipated features like UWB and AR with the added benefit of deep “Find My” app integration — an advantage so significant Tile referenced it in a letter to Europe’s antitrust leadership.

Our recommendation for Tile: Locate some creative ways to survive.

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Banking fact(s) of the day
Michael Scott meme

Source: IMGFLip

Bank regulations in the USA have gone through many iterations through the centuries.

Here are some notable dates:

1863: The National Bank Act of 1863 established a system of national banks charged with circulating a stable and uniform currency for the country.

1913: In the fallout from the bank panic of 1907, the Woodrow Wilson administration approved the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. The act created the Federal Reserve system — with 12 regional banks managing America’s money supply and acting as a “lender of last resort” — that we know today.

1930s: After the 1929 stock market crash precipitated the Great Depression, the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration passed 2 landmark regulations:

  1. The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which insures bank deposits and separated commercial and investment banking activity (this part was repealed in the 1990s).
  2. The Banking Act of 1935 gave the Federal Reserve even more centralized power.
Shower Thoughts

  1. Your character doesn’t blink in 1st person games.
  2. You know a song is good when you have to force yourself to not replay it again as to not make it repetitive and old any faster.
  3. Cutting up sandpaper is probably the closest thing to playing rock-paper-scissors by yourself.
  4. Internet Explorer has outlived Flash Player.
  5. Chasing after a ping pong ball is wildly dehumanizing.
via Reddit
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