Every now and then I like to take a moment and consider my email. More to the point, I like to think about how my email helps paint the mosaic of trends that shape my opinion. So, in this week’s blog I thought I’d run through some of the notable emails that hit my inbox this week.
SoFi is the gift that keeps on giving
It’s amazing how quickly things have deteriorated for online lender Social Finance, better known as SoFi or, as I now call them, “SoF*cked.” The email on SoFi – which has been described as a “frat house” – has flowed consistently for over a week. Only one month ago their PR was literally glowing. We’re getting into wealth management! We’re launching a venture fund! We’re offering retreats for millennials! Get a SoFi mortgage and we’ll deliver avocado toast to your house! (I swear, this is true stuff.)
My good friend Steve Lord likes to say, “A disastrous ending is better than a never-ending disaster.” But in this case, I disagree. I hope SoFi can drag their disaster out. This is great entertainment.
[Note to self: Should my employees ever be found having sex in the bathroom, blog about it immediately to avoid that dreadful moment when I’m caught by the media.]
Last weekend I had breakfast with a friend who does multi-family real estate acquisitions. He’s been doing it successfully for 25 years and has raised the bulk of his capital through traditional Reg D offerings. He’s now exploring crowd-based investment and looking at partnering with platforms which have existing distribution. In our discussion, we talked about the deteriorating deal economics on some of the busier real estate websites.
If you’re like me, you get plenty of emails from these platforms. Referencing just one of them would be giving short shrift to the whole segment. Take a close look at a handful of emails pitching real estate and ask yourself how investors will make money with the layering of fees taking place. Deal quality is another issue. It feels to me like in the quest for volume, there are probably corners being cut on due diligence – at least on some of the more active platforms.
SPACs are back
Fortune.com’s emails have been buzzing with news about Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya raising $600 million for his blank check company, Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings. The idea here is that Social Capital Hedosophia will acquire a major tech company and help it get public (sans the initial public offering process).
I love the SPAC strategy. I also love the direct-listing strategy companies like Spotify are pursuing. Everyone knows the IPO process is broken, it’s no secret anymore. Want a real eye-opener? 24 SPAC deals have already gone public this year.
[Be on the lookout for a new conference I’m launching on SPACs.]
Everyone’s got a weed deal
I received two emails this week pitching marijuana investments. Or I should say, “medical” marijuana investments (you should read those quotes like “air quotes” because if you’ve ever visited a dispensary, you already know that you’re likely to see more 18-year-old skateboarders than cancer patients). Anyways…One of those deals was a grow-ops transaction promoting a greenhouse that promises to yield more plants. The other was a fertilizer designed to grow healthier vegetables, and oh yeah… pot too.
This got me thinking: Does anyone really need more weed? I’ve heard that in Colorado there’s so much pot that some growers can’t even sell it. So instead, they’re turning it into mulch and throwing it on the lawn.
My gut tells me that the story of marijuana in this country will look a lot like the story of traditional farming – too much production. We don’t need more weed. Trust me on this. Currently, 26 states have legalized medical marijuana, and 7 states have legalized recreational marijuana. In most of these states, you’ve got door-to-door delivery. Still think we need more weed? Try smoking some of it. Talk about major paranoia!
FUV: the latest Reg A gone public
I was happy to see another Reg A issuer get public, going straight to Nasdaq, no less. Electric vehicle manufacturer Arcimoto raised $19M in its offering with WR Hambrecht serving as underwriter. I received a handful of emails from service providers involved with the deal. It’s sounding like with every passing Reg A, some of the kinks are being worked out of the system. I’m bullish on Reg A, and hoping this doesn’t turn into another Elio Motors fiasco.
Why do VCs like dog sitting?
There’s a running joke in my office: Every time a pet-sitting website gets VC funding I walk around incredulous for a solid 5 minutes, asking everyone how the heck an online dog sitting service can raise venture capital. A ton of cash has been raised in this niche, for companies with some stupid-ass names like Rover.com and DogVacay. Well on Thursday, I heard about another one, in an email from Fortune’s TermSheet. Here’s the exact blurb from the email: DogBuddy, a London-based online marketplace for dig-sitting, has raised €5 million in Series A funding led by existing backer Sweet Capital.
I’ve had dogs. I get it, we love our pets. But my question is this: If I use a website to find a dog-sitter, and I’m happy with that dog-sitter because when I came back from vacation my dog told me how great that dog-sitter was, why am I going back to that website to book the dog-sitter again? Can someone please explain this business model to me?