Tag: investors

We live in а bubble world, full of unicorns

If we can use one sentence regarding the startup culture for the past decade, it will be Bubbles and Unicorns everywhere. These days every entrepreneur is trying to create the next unicorn and to fill its bubble with money. Unfortunately, looking at the facts, this approach is unsuccessful and usually leads to the startup’s failure. 

But let’s analyze the definition of the unicorn in the startup culture – the unicorn is a startup with an evaluation of over 1 billion US dollars. Here is the essential point of our analysis. Evaluation is not the annual profit these companies are making. We could define evaluation as the “social” trust into a global brand, and we “evaluate” this “social” trust to 1 billion US dollars. Last year’s report showed that from 73 unicorn companies, only 6 had a positive net profit. And to make the situation even worse, 34 of these 73 unicorns had losses more significant than 30% of their revenue.

Having the previous paragraph in mind, we could easily deduce that without a proper IPO, these 34 unicorns would most probably end with a failure. Furthermore, the six profitable Unicorn startups (out of 73) did IPOs many years ago. No Unicorn startup among those announcing or doing an IPO since Zoom in August 2019 was profitable in 2019 (or 2020). The statistic suggests that the privately held Unicorns, which have yet to do IPOs, are primarily unprofitable. Thus, the record low profitability of startups is likely to get worse. 

On the diagram, you can see a standard workflow of the making of a unicorn startup. In every round, more and more companies decide to exit, or they fail. Others manage to attract new funding and continue until they reach the dreamt status of the unicorn

And here is one exciting statement – every IPO company acts as an investment bank. It needs the IPO investors’ money to fund its activities. However, we need to ask ourselves whether this is a sustainable approach and whether we should mark unicorns as “successful” business ventures, considering that they do not operate on profit. And here is a sample list of reasons, marking unicorn as successful is a bad idea:

  • No net profit from their main business idea: Making not enough profit from their business idea means that the business idea is not viable. Evaluation of 1 billion US dollars does not mean that the assessment of the concept is so much.
  • Need of IPO to survive: Going into IPO mode means that the unicorn is now a public investment bank. In that sense, it starts acting as a bank, but not as a business venture. Another hint that the business idea was not profitable enough.
  • The considerable margin between evaluation and revenue: Sometimes, there is a significant margin between profit and revenue. It is essential to understand that evaluation is based on mathematical formulas, and as with every formula, the results can be set up for enormous evaluation. So, in short, a significant evaluation does not mean a successful business idea.

In conclusion, I think it is suitable for every entrepreneur and investor to ask themselves whether it is good to operate a business this way. Maybe a more prudent approach to doing business and ensuring the company has a minimized positive net profit will make the startup environment much better and less stressful.

The fail of ICO as a financial alternative to traditional stock exchanges

The killer of IPO, the new fintech revolution, the path to decentralization – all of these were the nicknames of ICO. But, what is an ICO? The initial coin offering (ICO) is a financial mechanism for a company to raise new capital. Usually, the reason for that event is to fund new services or business opportunities. Sometimes is to provide an alternative for financing early-stage digital innovations through crypto-assets.

Failure of ICO

Unfortunately, an initial coin offering is not always successful in attracting enough traction and investment. According to official research, around 800 cryptocurrencies are declared dead since 2018. It is a considerable decline in trust in ICO. 

Some examples of initial coin offering failures;

  • Swiss coin: Swisscoin was designed for a broad audience and the needs of small investors and traders. Using Swisscoin was to build up a payment system in which soon over a billion people will participate. However, it failed, and there is no traction for the last three years.
  • Enigma: Enigma is a decentralized data marketplace protocol and cryptocurrency created by a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates and researchers and incubated at MIT Media Lab. The Enigma protocol is a second-layer, off-chain network that aims to solve scalability and privacy issues on the blockchain. However, they got hacked.
  • The DAO:  The DAO was a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) launched in 2016 on the Ethereum blockchain. After raising $150 million worth of ether (ETH) through a token sale, The DAO was hacked due to vulnerabilities in its codebase. The Ethereum blockchain was eventually hard forked to restore the stolen funds. However, not all parties agreed with this decision, which resulted in the network splitting into two distinct blockchains: Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.
To participate in ICO, people must have crypto wallets. After the initial coin offering, the coin is usually transferred to your wallet. You can use them to pay for something as soon as someone is ready to take your tokens.

Is the presence of an IPO the reason for the failure of ICO?

Yes! The main reason behind the failure of ICO is IPO. Most investors trust IPO instead of ICO. Companies do not back Bitcoin and Ethereum, so they are more community-based, which is entirely another financial mechanism. In the case of IPO and ICO, we usually speak about investors. Primarily, ICO deals with early investors who are interested in investing in new projects. However, most investors think that ICO is less reliable than IPO because of two reasons:

  • No regulation: To list your company on the stock exchange and make an IPO, your company must endure an exceptionally detailed and harsh financial audit. With ICO, this is not the case. There is no regulation, and you have to believe in the company owners’ words and vision.
  • No attachments: In case of company bankruptcy, there are legal attachments between the shareholders and the company owners with IPO. With ICO, this is not the case. If the currency is dead, there are no legal consequences.

In conclusion, I am personally a big fan of cryptocurrencies as technology. However, from the financial point of view, they are a little bit of a nightmare. Without regulation and centralized authority, you can not control inflation. And unfortunately, a community-based cryptocurrency will most probably end the same way as Bitcoin and Ethereum are behaving at the moment.