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SF-based life insurance firm comes out of stealth mode after raising some cash from multiple celebrity backers. The Hustle Fri, Jun 15 Brought to you by Leesa… sleep like nothing else matters. Life insurance startup, Ethos, gets $11m from Sequoia...
By: Wes Schlagenhauf
June 15, 2018
SF-based life insurance firm comes out of stealth mode after raising some cash from multiple celebrity backers.
Brought to you by Leesa… sleep like nothing else matters.
Life insurance startup, Ethos, gets $11m from Sequoia and a star-studded list of backers
Ethos, the stealth insurtech firm that wants to make life insurance accessible, cheap, and easy, has officially come out of hiding with an $11.5m investment led by Sequoia Capital.
But, your classic run of the mill VC giants aren’t the only ones interested in this ever-growing industry…
Tony Stark and The Durantula are getting in on it, too
We’re not talking Gilbert Gottfried or Rob Schneider here. We’re talking public-eye royalty from Jay Z’s Roc Nation, to the family funds from Will Smith, Robert Downey Jr., and NBA superstar Kevin Durant.
Of course, life insurance isn’t a typical knee-jerk investment for Hollywood moguls, and hall-of-famers, but these days more venture capitalists are piling into the insurtech space.
According to a May report, the number of venture capital investors joining the sector increased from 53 in 2012, to 217 in 2017 -- since that rise, those investors have shoved $9B into the industry.
Why are they so interested in it?
Because noone’s interested in it
Life insurance is on the decline -- according to TechCrunch, only 60% of Americans have life insurance in 2018, down from 77% in 1989 -- and that’s exactly why guys like Ironman and Beyonce’s husband want a piece.
In the mind of investors, decline often spells d-i-s-r-u-p-t-i-o-n.
The assumption is that there is room for new companies to come in and blow the old guard out of the water with a newer, better service.
And that’s exactly what Ethos is selling
The SF-based company’s core product is a streamlined, and affordable, process for buying term insurance. The company says 99% of its applicants don’t need a medical exam or blood test to get approved for a policy.
According to co-founder and CEO Peter Colis, to stand out in a crowded field, Ethos uses “the latest technology and predictive analytics” to cut down on lengthy and expensive consultations. With Ethos, people can reportedly sign up for life insurance within 10 minutes.
A new lease on life
They said they would. And they bid. Comcast makes Fox a primo counter offer
As expected, Comcast unveiled a $65B bid for the majority of 21st Century Fox -- less than 24 hours after AT&T was cleared to buy Time Warner.
Now, winter is here, and Comcast will be stepping into the ring with Disney, in what, if successful, would be the 3rd largest media deal ever.
The rules: No touching of the hair or face
Comcast’s all-cash $65B bid is 19% higher than Disney’s all-stock $52.4B, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a shoo-in.
First they have to convince Fox, who shot down the media conglomerate’s previously higher bid as well, fearing it wouldn’t get approved by the DoJ.
Which could still be the case...
But the DoJ’s recent approval of AT&T/Time Warner might leave Fox a little more bullish on Comcast’s prospects.
Or who knows, maybe Rupert Murdoch is more of an Avengers fan than a Broad City guy…
23-year-old’s Lidar company lands Volvo partnership
Luminar, a company that makes Lidar (laser-based systems that enable self-driving cars to “see”), just announced a partnership with Volvo -- their 2nd with a large automaker -- to produce its self-driving tech.
That puts Luminar, run by brilliant 23-year old laser genius Austin Russell, in position to challenge their rival, Lidar industry leader Velodyne.
A young business with big plans
After starting the company in 2012 at 17, Russell ran the business in stealth for 5 years before debuting in 2017 -- and announced a huge partnership with Toyota shortly thereafter.
The company, which has picked up $36m from seed investors without holding an official funding round, now partners with 2 of the world’s largest carmakers -- and is waiting to unveil 2 more auto partners.
Let the laser wars begin
Toyota and Volvo chose Luminar thanks to its product (Luminar’s lasers are 40x more powerful than the competition) and its price (Luminar reduced its receiver cost from $10,000+ to $3 by making its own).
But despite its innovative tech, Luminar still has to dethrone Veteran Velodyne, (funded with $150.2m from Ford and Baidu) -- and competitors Strobe, Princeton Lightwave (acquired by GM and Ford, respectively) and Google’s Waymo are racing to do the same.
Etsy, the e-commerce marketplace for designer crafts from dried-fruit earrings to bedazzled coffee mugs, raised annual revenue projections 10% based on increased transaction fees.
The jump (which increased Etsy’s market cap by $1.4B) is the company’s largest spike since going public in 2015 -- a win for investors but a loss for sellers on the platform.
At the anti-Amazon, everything is crafted by happy hands
Etsy finally topped its 2015 IPO price after a long, long comeback doubling down on its strengths (AKA, homemade jewelry).
Disclaimer: Etsy doesn’t just do jewelry -- also T-shirts and ironic needlepoint.
The company isn’t resistant to tech improvements (it acquired an AI company to improve search results), but a huge driver of this past year’s growth has been differentiation from impersonal competitors.
Your uncle Malcolm is pissed…
Because he has to shell out more of his aluminum birdhouse sales. Etsy raised their transaction fee from 3.5% to 5% -- which, while lower than Amazon (15%) or eBay (10%), was enough to convince some sellers to leave.
But Etsy, which increased its marketing budget 40% in 2018, hopes that those that do stay will continue to rake in that sweet, sweet crochet cash.
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