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Meditating on the Private Markets in 2018 — Blog Recap

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Asa Lieberman   December 27, 2018

The end of each year brings with it a sense of familiarity and routine: holidays with loved ones, festive lighting all throughout town, the same old catchy holiday songs seemingly everywhere you turn… and year-in-review content. So much recap content.

In this spirit, we wanted to give our version of this style of content in the form of a blog-year-in-review. That is, a look back at some of our most popular pieces from the year. In a world of tech that has never been faster and a news cycle that has never been more sporadic (and exhausting), we hope you can kick back on the couch with a beverage of choice and enjoy some of our most popular blogs of 2018.

1. SoftBank: An Endless Reservoir of Dollars and Intrigue

Have you heard of this Japanese fund called SoftBank? Oh you have? I suppose when you raise $100B, you might warrant some attention… In late August, we released an in-depth report on SoftBank. The analysis was chock full of interesting research, including gems such as the following:
"Even at a more modest 20% hurdle rate, the Vision Fund will need to return almost $23 billion in realized equity value per year after the fund’s investment period. Including the annual interest payments, this equates to roughly the GDP of El Salvador every year over this period."
Read the full report here.

2. IPO Outlooks and Updates

Though we released our 2018 IPO Outlook in December of 2017, many of you were excited to read our mid-year update which detailed what we got right, what we may have missed, and any new insights we had for the remainder of the year. The IPO Outlook is a staple here at EquityZen, and so we were thrilled to see that your excitement continued on through to the new 2019 IPO Outlook. Others were watching too, as our 2019 IPO Outlook was picked up by many major networks, including our 4-part series on Yahoo! Finance.

Download the full 2019 IPO Outlook here. Read the 2018 IPO Outlook Update here.

3. Value Private Companies the EZ Way

At the end of Q3, we let you all under the hood and gave you a complete guide to how we value private companies. Our Research Team uses these methods when reviewing the many pre-IPO companies that come across our platform, and now you can use these techniques when reviewing our offerings, company valuations, or simply for your own entertainment (though, if valuing private companies is your idea of entertainment, then check out our Careers page because we should talk!)

Read through the how-to valuation guide here.

4. Spotify’s Non-IPO

Remember Spotify IPO’d this year? We know, it seems like just yesterday Napster was a thing. Well maybe not Napster, but hey, vinyl is back so is anybody really sure what year it is in the music industry? In April, Spotify opted to eschew the standard IPO process and instead list directly onto NYSE in what many referred to as a “non-IPO.” We broke down the difference between an IPO and Initial Public Listing, as well as what the success of this style of exit would mean for the future of the private and public markets.

Read the full piece here.

5. Oldies but Goodies

As is often the case, we received many hits to our evergreen content from yesteryear. These are some of our greatest hits, including:
  • Understanding equity comp for employees (read it here)
  • NSOs vs ISOs (read it here)
  • Understanding RSUS like your boss (read it here)

Thank you to all of you for continuing to support EquityZen as we strive to bring liquidity to early startup employees, access to investors, and education materials on the private markets to the greater internet populous. We hope you’ve enjoyed our EZ Meditations over the course of the year and we look forward to bringing you even more content in 2019! And from all of us here on the EquityZen Team, we wish you a sincere Happy Holidays and good fortune in the New Year!


The Trend Is Your Friend: 8 Lucky Consumer Investing Trends in 2018

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Kartik Ram   January 04, 2018

The new year is in full effect, and with it comes the inevitable barrage of 2018 predictions, hot takes, and lists. In a world that is creeping closer to the embodiment of a Black Mirror episode, we wanted to present an alternative to the usual lists you are going to see over the next few weeks.

To do this, we have again called upon friend of EquityZen, and FashionFund Managing Director, Kartik Ram, to give us Consumer Investing trends to look out for without using the words "crypto," "AI," and "VR."

Counting on ancient wisdom in lucky numbers, we curate eight consumer trends private investors might find refreshing and profitable. In researching this list, sectors we thought would boom were cooling off and those we weren’t watching closely, surprised, and delighted us. Here’s what I'm keeping my eye out for in 2018:

#8 — Internet of Living 

Practically defining next week’s CES 2018 exhibition, the smart home movement will gain deafening momentum this year. Connected appliances, designer doorbells and smart locks will make way for deeper tech and design integration with nature and interior design. No more home buttons and tacky, plastic hardware. Apple and Amazon will sprinkle their fairy dust on new entrants to think big and innovate in small spaces.

# 7 — Car-ma Chameleon 

Though Tesla is at the epicenter of the global aspiration for electric vehicles, connected cars in general will be a hotbed for investors. From autonomy to Alexa, all things mobility will rise in 2018. While complete autonomy is still a thing of the future, parking assistants, heads-up displays and streaming entertainment will encounter a flurry of startup activity at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit starting January 14, 2018.

# 6 — Adventure Capitalism 

Once a hedonism reserved for die-hard Burning Man “burners,” glamping is now a staple for hordes of millennials. Just pop into REI or shop at one of the many brands like Fjällräven, Canada Goose and Outdoor Voices. These—along with a cohort of technical leisure startups—will inspire, protect, and wrap you in comfort. The industry is booming, as are the brands catering to the adventurous. This is outdoor recreation’s golden age.

# 5 — Big Business of Tiny Homes

As tiny homes go mainstream, a whole new crop of construction tech entrants is about to take on traditional builders for market share. 2018 will be the year where offsite or modular construction will gain critical mass with brands going way beyond cabins and containers to designer pods that are insulated, stackable and sustainable. Modular homes, hotels and getaways will define the second home market and make for a sound investment thesis.

# 4 — Walking Gets Disrupted

Micro-mobility is not just for the brave. Commuters and city slickers everywhere are waking up to scooters, e-bikes, and powered skateboards that propel them efficiently within cities. Distances too far to walk yet too close for Lyft are prime to be disrupted by action sports brands, some popping up on Kickstarter and others on Amazon. Get your 10,000 steps, but also find a way to invest in this rebirth of walking.

# 3 — Cannabis Gets Personal 

No theme is more clear and present than the end of cannabis prohibition. California joined the crop of 4 other states that opened up to “rec” or recreational use. Others might well follow. There’s a crushing need for “real” business models designed with customers in mind, not just wholesale/retail arbitrage. We’ve already seen companies like Eaze hit the ground running in this space. Look out for sophisticated entrepreneurs shaking up the Cannabis Tech space with content, personalization, and brand building.

# 2 — Podcasting Goes Long-tail 

A throwback to the first bubble, podcasting is in vogue again, and this time, it’s polished, potent, and practical. Sponsorships, product placements, and content marketing are no longer monopolized by YouTube. Podcasting is just the right kind of long-form advertising that informs and entertains. No wonder investors are flocking to “pod-fluencers” who build targeted audiences with their podcasts. Content is king, yet again.

#1 — Wellness is the New Luxury 

Unequivocally, wellness is the ultimate expression of modern luxury. This industry has transcended seedy spas and gimmicky products to a burgeoning array of conscious brands, destination resorts, holistic treatments, meditation apps, and immersive education vying to boost your well-being. Private equity from the likes of Revolution and L Catterton has poured into design-led fitness and wellness brands while Amazon’s big bet on Whole Foods has also led to a burst of interest in this space. Stay tuned for a lot of new leaders in this space.

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Kartik Ram is the New York-based Managing Director of Fashion Fund, a next generation venture capitalist at the intersection of retail, technology and finance.