With the IPO’s of Uber & Beyond Meat, an entirely new wave of young startups may soon be attacking a wide range of “non-tech” industries. Credit: Getty
Over the last few months, the IPO window has opened in a significant way on Wall Street as a host of venture capital Startups have gone public on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.These public listings include some of the biggest names from Silicon Valley such as Pinterest, Uber, Lyft and several other so-called “unicorns.”
While this in itself is newsworthy, one aspect not being talked about enough is that several of the biggest IPO’s are not technology companies in the pure sense of being SaaS, Social Media or Enterprise Software. Instead, they are companies that are leveraging technology to innovate and disrupt traditional analog industries such as:
- Transportation:Companies like Uber and Lyft pioneered ride-sharing as they compete with the taxi and automobile industries to redefine “mobility.”
- Food:Beyond Meat and its “alternative protein” is trying to change how the world eats its hamburgers.
- Retail:Luckin Coffee, which calls itself “China’s second largest and fastest-growing coffee network” is trying to beat Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts with a delivery-centric model that is UberEats meets coffee.
- Home Entertainment: Sonos is redefining the home sound system with their smart wireless speakers as they compete against Sony, Bose, Samsung and a host of other home electronics companies.
Each of these IPO’s have been extremely successful in their offerings, generating significant demand on Wall Street. In just one day, Beyond Meat saw its value soar from $1.6 billion to $4.2 billion.Lyft, despite trading down since going public, is still valued near $20 billion. Meanwhile, Luckin is looking to raise over $500 million at north of a $4 billion valuation when it goes public in the coming days/weeks.
The part of the story that intrigues me as a brand marketer in these IPO’s will be the Second Order Consequences that come from them.If you aren’t familiar with the term, Benedict Evans of the venture firm Andreessen Horowitz touched upon the concept in a post about electric and autonomy in automobiles:
There are profound consequences beyond the industry itself. It’s useful, and perhaps more challenging, to think about second and third order consequences. What those consequences would be is much harder to predict: as the saying goes, it was easy to predict mass car ownership but hard to predict Wal-mart, and the broader consequences… will come in some very widely-spread industries, in complex interlocked ways. Still, we can at least point to where some of the changes might come. I can’t tell you what will happen – but I can suggest that something will happen, and probably something big.”
In this case, the Second Order Consequences will be the behavior around categories and industries that are just now feeling the impact of digital disruption.This behavior will come from two direct effects where the cause might just be the IPO of these digitally-enabled companies.
First, IPO’s have a cascading impact on how venture capital investors view certain categories – both positive and negative. The strong performance of an offering can have an impact on the entire category. This can lead to more investors being willing to consider a category as attractive from an investment standpoint, making it easier for early-stage companies to raise financing – or more difficult if a sector struggles like AdTech a few years ago. In this case, these IPO’s have the potential to show the financial visibility of certain non-technology categories that traditional venture investors may have shied away from in the past for any number of reasons.
Second, in addition to investors being more attracted to these industries, the IPO’s unleash founders that now have deep domain and subject matter expertise. These founders have seen first-hand what it takes to build high-growth companies. They also have the financial means thanks to profitable stock options to launch their own ideas or to back other founders. This exact scenario is what famously gave rise to the “PayPal Mafia,” which counts entrepreneurs and investors such as Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Reid Hoffman amongst its group. In today’s market, we now have a group of potential markets that have deep domain expertise in using digital to disrupt Blue Chips.
While the Second Order Consequences of these IPO’s are far from certain, the potential is one that Fortune 500 leaders need to consider. With investors and founders more comfortable in leveraging digital for traditionally analog industries, an entirely new wave of young startups may soon be attacking a wide range of industries in the very near future.