What’s Up: Week of December 8th

Airbnb tops $100 hundred billion on its Nasdaq debut

Airbnb has priced its initial public offering at $68 per share, significantly above its target range, in a sign of investor confidence in both Airbnb’s home-sharing business and the long-term recovery of the travel industry at large, reports the Financial Times. 

The company’s shares skyrocketed on their first day of trading, rising 113 percent above the initial public offering price of $68 to close at $144.71. That put Airbnb’s market capitalization at $100.7 billion — the largest in its generation of “unicorn” companies and more than Expedia Group and Marriott International combined. Airbnb’s offering raised $3.5 billion, making it the biggest I.P.O. this year.

DoorDash reached a market value of $60 billion

DoorDash reached a market value of $60 billion in its public trading debut, capping a dramatic rise for the US meal delivery company whose business has flourished during the pandemic while drawing a backlash from restaurant groups, reports the Financial Times. Shares in DoorDash closed at $189.51 on December 9 — 86 percent above the price of their initial public offering — in a sign of the frenzied demand among public investors for fast-growing, technology-driven companies.

The San Francisco-based company had sold shares to investors at $102 apiece on December 10 evening, above its target price range, raising almost $3.4 billion. The company has quickly risen to become the largest player in the US food delivery market, taking 50 percent of total order value in October, according to Edison Trends.

It has also faced backlash from some restaurant groups, which say its commission rates are too high. In several cities officials have stepped in to reduce fees during the pandemic. Investors have also questioned whether DoorDash and its competitors can be profitable in the long-term, leading to a wave of consolidation in the industry this year. DoorDash reported a surprise profit of $23 million in the second quarter as the demand for food delivery spiked during the pandemic.

Tokyo to help fund Japanese AI cupid upgrades-report

The Japanese government plans to step up efforts to stem the country’s tumbling birth rate by helping to fund more sophisticated artificial intelligence matchmaking systems, reports Reuters.

The number of births in 2019 was down 5.8 percent to around 865,000, the lowest annual figure ever: a drop in the number of marriages and a rise in the age of marriage both played a part. In a country with a long history of human matchmakers, local governments have already moved on to AI matching systems to pair people up, but many only consider criteria such as income and age and only produce results if there is an exact match.

The latest envisaged central government funding will allow access to systems which pair people with a potential partner even if those income or age wishes do not match. A number of Japanese prefectures have already introduced such systems, which take hobbies and values into account and produce a wider range of results, but they can be costly.

The national government will guarantee roughly 60 percent of the cost of the more elaborate AI systems, out of 2 billion yen it is requesting to fight the falling birthrate in next year’s fiscal budget.

Billionaire Siebel’s C3.ai boosts IPO price range as investors flock to tech stocks

C3.ai, founded by billionaire tech entrepreneur Tom Siebel, expects to raise $589 million in its initial public offering (IPO) after boosting its price range, reports Reuters. The software company plans to sell 15.5 million shares priced at between $36 and $38 per share.

The company is among the numerous Silicon Valley startups that are rushing to capitalize on an investor frenzy for new tech stocks. Palantir Technologies, Snowflake and Unity Software all went public this year. C3.ai’s market capitalization at the top end of the range would be around $3.66 billion. C3.ai builds predictive analytics systems to help customers with maintenance and repair work, fraud detection, money laundering prevention and other services. The company counts Royal Dutch Shell, 3M, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Department of Defense, among its customers.

Resilient European tech startups near record $41 billion investment

European tech startup investment has bounced back from the spring shock of the coronavirus outbreak and is on track to hit a record high this year, reports Reuters based on the venture capital firm Atomico forecast. Venture backing for tech rebounded to a monthly record of $5 billion in September, putting a high of $41 billion for 2020 within reach. With 115 venture capital-backed ‘unicorns’, with a valuation of more than $1 billion, the total valuation of tech firms founded in Europe since 2000 has grown to nearly $1 trillion. Music streaming service Spotify and payments firm Adyen head the list with stock market valuations north of $50 billion, putting them in Europe’s tech top 10. Swedish ‘fintech’ Klarna and Romanian robotic software firm UiPath have achieved valuations above $10 billion while remaining in private ownership, reflecting the growing depth of the region’s venture capital industry. While Europe still lags North America by five to one in terms of dollars invested, the amount of institutional money flowing into venture capital has grown threefold over the last five years. Atomico estimates that Europe’s 24 biggest tech firms have created a network of more than 3,000 founders of new companies.