🧺 Bargain shopping IPOs are coming


December 2, 2020

PLUS: A very important Supreme Court case.
December 2, 2020
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Hewlett-Packard Enterprise announced that it’s shifting its HQ to Houston. It is the latest California tech firm to follow in the footsteps of The Hustle and relocate to Texas.

The Big Idea
Wish GIF

A wave of bargain shopping IPOs are coming. Why now?

For the longest time on the internet, the best places to lowball-offer your way to a great bargain were eBay and Craigslist.

But things changed in the wake of the 2008-09 financial crisis.

Powered by the smartphone revolution (and tight budgets), 3 bargain shopping apps were founded in quick succession: ThredUp (2009), Wish (2010), and Poshmark (2011). 

Amid another crisis, the apps have come of age

Per The Information, all 3 companies are looking toward an IPO.

ThredUp and Poshmark — both active in the $28B apparel resale market —  filed confidentially. While their numbers aren’t available, Coresight research pegs Poshmark as the 2nd-biggest reselling platform after eBay.

Wish (which sells insanely cheap items of all sorts, typically sourced from China) claims it’s the world’s most-downloaded shopping app. According to the $11B startup’s prospectus, it has:

  • 100m monthly active users in 100+ countries 
  • 500k+ merchants selling 150m items (~1.8m sold daily) 
  • $1.7B revenue through September (vs. $1.1B in 2017)

An underserved part of the market

According to Forbes, Wish’s CEO Peter Szulczewski targets “the bottom 25% of U.S. households by income, scraping by on $31,000 or less a year.”

On the site, you’ll find things like $4 “lux” watches, $253 laptops and (why didn’t anyone tell me about this) $12 engagement rings.

ThredUp and Poshmark also appeal to tight budgets but have the added tailwind of “socially conscious” shopping.

In an effort to avoid waste, millennials are happy owning secondhand goods, which are projected to make up “17% of a person’s share of closet space by 2029, up from just 3% in 2009,” according to GlobalData Retail.

In July, Wish lost a big shipping subsidy…

… which allowed Chinese merchants to ship directly to the US at a cheaper cost than shipping within the US. With most goods coming from China, Forbes described this development as an “existential threat.” 

To offset this loss, Wish is building a network of 100k small shops across the US. Customers can keep scoring low costs if they pick up multiple bundled items in person.

There’s no guarantee it’ll work.

But with a long economic recovery ahead, bargain hunting (and aggressive lowballing) are here to stay.

(Related: Read our Trends Q&A with ThredUp’s founder and CEO)

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Snippets
  • Amazon Web Services will run Apple Mac instances on its cloud (EC2). This puts the word “friend” in “frenemy” because — by doing this — Amazon will accelerate “software development on Apple Silicon” and help the Cupertino tech giant keep moving away from Intel computing chips.
  • Kind of sad: Xerox’s research arm — PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) — was famed for creating the laser printer, Ethernet, and graphical user interface, which Steve Jobs got his hands on. Now, it’s literally a patent troll, suing Facebook, Snap, and Twitter for infringement.
  • File this under “didn’t know I needed it”: Google Maps just launched a news feed; it’s designed to help you find updates and reccos from trusted local sources. To differentiate it from Facebook’s anchor product, Google cleverly named it the Community Feed.
  • Does this scale? (Apparently not): Facebook’s oversight board has received 20k+ submissions and it’s reviewing — wait for it — 6 of them.
  • So many Goldman Sachs alumni (Gary Cohn, Steve Mnuchin, Henry Paulson, Bob Rubin) have worked in the White House that it’s been dubbed “Government Sachs.” In a switch, President-elect Biden is tapping BlackRock folk for key roles.
  • $27.7B is how much Salesforce is spending to buy the best stock ticker on the market, $WORK AKA Slack (read our analysis of the deal here).
  • $35B is the top of the range of Airbnb’s IPO offering.
  • $529B is a completely random number we plucked out of thin air.
 
In The Cards
Homer Simpson GIF

This $700m deal proves that collectible cards are no joke

This is the most valuable advice you may get today: Go to your closet and pull out that box of old sports trading cards. 

You might have gold.

From 2016 to 2019, card sales on eBay jumped 40%, to $600m+, according to ESPN. This year, the wave of liquidity from pandemic stimulus — and the rise of secondary markets like StockX — has the card biz on fire some notable sales:

  • MLB’s Mike Trout ($3.84m)
  • NBA’s Giannis Antetokounmpo ($1.86m)
  • NBA’s LeBron James ($1.8m and $1.08m)

Now, a major collectibles appraiser has cashed in

Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen just teamed up with entrepreneur Nat Turner to acquire Collectors Universe, a leading 3rd-party collectible authentication and grading service.

The deal is valued at ~$700m, which is triple Collectors’ market cap from just one year ago.

The company claims its various designations — like PCGS (for coins) and PSA (sports cards) — boost sale values at auction.

Latest quarterly sales were up 52% YoY…

… totaling $30.8m, which puts it on an annual run rate of $120m+, double its 2015 revenue of $62m.

Collectors’ latest earnings call suggests the firm has more growth coming: It has a huge backlog of authentication requests and is doubling its facilities (to 126k+ square feet) to accommodate demand.

So, if you find something in that shoebox, definitely send it to us and we’ll send it along for you…

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  • Poor security due to password reuse (hey, we all do it…)
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The Supreme Court
Supreme Court

The future of online security and privacy is being decided right now

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for a case with wide-ranging implications for how the digital sphere will be policed. 

Here’s what you need to know, per Protocol:

The case: Van Buren v. United States 

What happened? In 2017, former Georgia police officer Nathan Van Buren “accepted money to look up a woman’s license plate in a law enforcement database.”

What law was broken? Van Buren was convicted of violating the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), specifically a vague clause that says accessing a computer “without authorization or exceeding authorized access” is a crime. 

What’s the defense saying? Van Buren clearly did something wrong, but because of how vague the standard is, he’s arguing that he had “authorized access” to the database but used that access for “unauthorized” purposes. 

OK, how does this affect me? Odds are you’ve done something that could be considered “unauthorized” under an expanded CFAA standard: 1) using a work computer to look up the value of a Lebron James rookie card (guilty); 2) not abiding by a tech firm’s terms of service (e.g., creating a fake account). 

Who wants Van Buren to lose? If CFAA is expanded, Big Tech firms can use TOS violations as a way to enforce whatever rules they want. 

What wants Van Buren to win? Online privacy groups (e.g., Electronic Frontier Foundation) don’t want Big Tech to be able to expand their powers. Further, journalists and researchers, who often set up fake profiles to study Big Tech, are concerned about facing legal liability. 

So far — according to Law and Crime — the Supreme Court seems to be leaning with Van Buren. Justice Samuel Alito noted that expansion of CFAA “would criminalize all sorts of activity that people would find innocuous.”

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List of the day

Forbes released its popular “30 Under 30” list and we were delighted to find an interesting wrinkle for this year: an “800 under 800” list. 

Not to be wet blankets but Forbes made some mistakes: 

  • Yoda is 900 years old 
  • Gandalf the Grey is 2019 year old 
  • The 2 dudes from Interview With The Vampire are not clear 

We can confirm that Wolverine — aged 137 — belongs on the list; that young man has a bright future. 

If you have any nominees for the list, please comment here

Company of the day

Heritage Auctions is the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer and the 3rd-largest general auction business behind Christie’s and Sotheby’s. 

The items above come from Heritage Auctions’ “Hall of Fame.”

Founded in 1976, the Dallas-based company — which scored the enviable URL www.HA.com — has an impressive track record: 

  • $800m+ in sales for 2019 
  • Valuable pricing data based on 5m auction lots and 1.1m online bidders 
  • $10B+ total sales in fine art and collectibles, selling 279k+ consignments 

Here’s how Heritage makes money:

  • For every transaction, it makes money from both the buyer (~15% surcharge) and the seller (up to a 15% commission).
  • It also offers appraisal services for various legal reasons (bankruptcy, taxes, insurance donations, divorce).  

The majority of lot auctions are coins and currencies (57%), comics (13%), and movie posters (7%). 

(For a deep dive on Heritage Auctions, check out this Trends report.)

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Editing by: Zachary “Don’t lowball me, bro” Crockett, Hassen Ben Sober (Wine Taster from the Abu Dhabi Office).

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