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What to know about Instacart’s IPO

May 18, 2022, 12:46 PM UTC

Last week was an interesting one for Instacart to start the process of going public.

Inflation is still soaring, and tech stocks have taken a beating this year—so much so that the grocery delivery unicorn decided to cut its own valuation by nearly 40% in March, citing market turbulence and potential future upside for its employees.

“The timing definitely doesn’t seem ideal,” says Alex Frederick, a senior emerging technology analyst at Pitchbook.

Riding on a pandemic that had tripled its revenue in 2020, Instacart appears to be pressing forward with its plans to go public anyway. Last week it confidentially filed a draft registration statement for an IPO. 

This, of course, doesn’t mean they have to go public. And it could take around six to nine months for the SEC to review all the relevant documents. But here’s a big question: Will the chaos starting to swirl in the private markets have subsided by the time Instacart is ready to hit the exchange, or is this just the beginning? That’s the thing: No one really knows when that will happen.

Instacart had notched $1.5 billion in revenue in 2020 and had raised $790 million in funding over three rounds in 2020 and 2021, per Pitchbook, hitting a $39 billion valuation in March 2021 before it slashed it a year later down to around $24 billion. In total, it’s raised more than $2.7 billion in private funding.

But as lockdowns have ended and people return to grocers in person, sales appear to have dropped off. Potential acquisition and partnership talks with Uber and DoorDash reportedly never panned out. And discussions with a group of board members led by Sequoia’s Michael Moritz got tense, per the New York Times. Instacart’s co-founder and then-CEO Apoorva Mehta stepped down from the position in July. (You can read Maria Aspan’s full feature in Fortune about the company’s moves here.)

Last fall, the Information revealed that Instacart was putting its plans to go public on pause in order to focus on growing its non-delivery services for retailers. Under its new CEO, the former Facebook executive Fidji Simo, the company has launched technology and tools for grocers to use to build websites and apps, as well as fulfillment services, advertising, and data insights. Simo has said she wants Instacart “to build the technologies that can power every single grocery transaction,” including the in-store shopping experience.

Numbers have continued to go up—though hardly at the pace of the early pandemic. Instacart reportedly raked in $1.8 billion in revenue in 2021. An Instacart spokesperson said that the company experienced all-time highs in orders, gross transaction value, revenue, ad revenue, and gross profit last year, but wouldn’t provide any specific figures.

Instacart is already operating in a challenging market—even if inflation wasn’t causing the prices of groceries to keep going up.

“My big concern for Instacart has always been that they’re adding fairly significant fees in an industry where margins are already very tight,” Frederick says. Margins tend to be 2-3%—so it can be difficult for grocers to shovel out any of those margins to pay third-party delivery fees.

During the pandemic, Instacart helped medium-sized chain grocery providers get online quickly when Walmart and Amazon were scaling up this service. It says it now works with 750 retail businesses and more than 70,000 stores. But many retailers that started to work with Instacart during the pandemic likely did so at a loss, Frederick explains. Players like Kroger have built out their own platforms. 

Until Instacart files an S-1, we can’t really see what the margins look like. We do know that Instacart’s cap table has big investments from late-stage investors that have slowed down their pace of dealmaking, including the hedge fund D1 Capital Partners and mutual fund manager Fidelity. Some of its longer-term backers, like Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, or Kleiner Perkins, have likely been waiting for an exit for a while. 

What now? Worst case scenario: Instacart may have to go back to market for capital. Frederick suggested Instacart might also be doing some kind of “dual track” fundraising process, essentially where it is fundraising while also laying ground to go public. Getting the IPO process underway could give the company leverage with investors who might want a quick exit, he says.

Or perhaps Instacart simply wanted to get on with it. A company spokesperson says Instacart has $1 billion in cash and marketable securities in the bank and is well-capitalized. We’ll see all the numbers ourselves when the S-1 is filed.

See you tomorrow,

Jessica Mathews
Twitter: @jessicakmathews
Email: jessica.mathews@fortune.com
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VENTURE DEALS

- Kriya Therapeutics, a Redwood City, Calif.-based gene therapy company, raised $270 Million in Series C funding led by Patient Square Capital and was joined by investors including Bluebird Ventures, CAM Capital, Dexcel Pharma, Foresite Capital, JDRF T1D Fund, Lightswitch Capital, Narya Capital, QVT, Transhuman Capital, and others. 

- Fashinza, a Gurugram, India-based manufacturing platform for the fashion industry, raised $100 Million in Series B funding led by Prosus Ventures and Westbridge and was joined by investors including Accel, Elevation, and ADQ

- Unit, a New York-based banking-as-a-service fintech startup, raised $100 Million in Series C funding led by Insight Partners and was joined by investors including Accel, Better Tomorrow Ventures, Flourish Ventures, Moving Capital, and Stepstone.  

- Vivun, ​​an Oakland-based buyer experience software provider, raised $75 million in Series C funding led by Salesforce Ventures and was joined by investors including Tiger Global, Menlo Ventures, Accel, and Unusual Ventures

- Buildots, a London and Tel Aviv-based A.I.-based construction management company, raised $60 million in Series C funding. Viola Growth and Eyal Ofer’s O.G. Tech led the round and were joined by investors including TLV Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Future Energy Ventures, and Maor Investments.

- Eridan, a Mountain View, Calif.-based radio frequency communication technology developer,  raised $46 million in funding. Capricorn’s Technology Impact Fund and Monta Vista Capital led the round and were joined by investors including Social Capital, Diamond Edge Ventures, and Pilot Grove Management

- Instabug, a San Francisco-based mobile monitoring, crash, and bug reporting solution for mobile teams, raised $46 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners and was joined by investors including Accel, Forgepoint Capital, and Endeavor

- Arrived Homes, a Seattle-based real estate investing platform, raised $25 million in Series A funding led by Forerunner Ventures and was joined by investors including Bezos Expeditions, Good Friends, former Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff, Core Innovation Capital, PSL Ventures, and Neo

- Legacy, a Boston-based digital sperm fertility clinic, raised $25 million in Series B funding led by Bain Capital Ventures and was joined by investors including FirstMark Capital, Section 32, TQ Ventures, and Valor Equity Partners

- Pangea Cyber Corporation, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based security services provider for cloud and mobile app developers, SaaS platform providers, and security operations centers, raised $25 million in Series A funding led by Ballistic Ventures and was joined by investors including SYN Ventures, Splunk former chairman and CEO Godfrey Sullivan, CrowdStrike founder and CEO George Kurtz, and former AWS Security Products Vice President Dan Plastina

- Column Tax, a New York-based personal income tax software company, raised $21.7 million in Series A funding led by Bain Capital Ventures and was joined by investors including Felicis, Not Boring, Core Innovation Capital, and South Park Commons

- CyberConnect, a Palo Alto-based decentralized social graph protocol for Web3 connections, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Animoca Brands and Sky9 Capital co-led the round and were joined by investors including Delphi Digital, Protocol Labs, Tribe Capital, GGV Capital, Spartan Group, Amber Group, IOSG Ventures, Polygon Studios, and SevenX Ventures

- Credo AI, a remote-based governance platform for managing A.I. risk and compliance, raised $12.8 million in Series A funding led by Sands Capital and was joined by investors including  Decibel and AI Fund.

- RAIN Technologies, a New York-based voice and conversational AI company, raised $11 million in Series B funding from investors including Valor Capital, McLarty Diversified Holdings, and Burch Creative Capital.

- Medallion, a New York-based Web3 technology company building relationships between musicians and their fans, raised $9.15 million in seed funding led by The Chernin Group.

- Joystick, a Puerto Rico-based P2E gaming company, raised $8 million in seed funding from investors including Axie Infinity creator Jeffrey "Jiho" Zirlin and others. 

- Inflection.io, a Seattle-based marketing platform for B2B companies, raised $5 million in seed funding led by MHS Capital and was joined by investors including Version One, Cercano Management, Ascend, and other angels. 

- Very Good Ventures, a New York-based Flutter app development consultancy, raised $3 million in Series A funding from Celesta Capital

- Werk, a Tallinn, Estonia-based hiring and relocation platform that matches companies with migrant construction workers, raised $1.3 million in pre-seed funding led by Change Ventures and was joined by investors including Foundamental VC and other angels.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- KKR agreed to acquire ContourGlobal, a London-based power generation company, for $2.16 billion. 

- Carousel Capital acquired a majority stake in Quality Automotive Services, Charlotte-based franchisee in the Valvoline Instant Oil Change system. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

- Telestream, a portfolio company of Genstar Capital, acquired Encoding.com, an Aspen, Colo.-based cloud media processing platform. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

- Tendit Group, a portfolio company of Osceola Capital, acquired Birrell Services, a Salt Lake City-based commercial commercial property cleaning services provider. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

- Tiugo Technologies, a portfolio company of PSG, acquired CKSource, a Warsaw, Poland-based text editing and document collaboration software provider for developers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

OTHER

- Rekor Systems agreed to acquire Southern Traffic Services, a Gulf Breeze, Fla.-based traffic data collection company. A deal is worth $14.5 million. 

- Beauty Industry Group acquired BELLAMI Hair, a Chatsworth, Calif.-based hair care company. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

IPOS 

- Saudi Aramco, a Dhahran, Saudi Arabia-based petroleum and natural gas company, is weighing an initial public offering of its trading arm. A deal could be worth more than $30 billion, according to Bloomberg. 

- The Weststar Group, an Ampang, Malaysia-based aviation services company, is weighing an initial public offering of its helicopter services unit in Kuala Lumpur. The company plans to raise at least $300 million, according to Bloomberg. The company is backed by KKR

SPAC

- Appreciate, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based single Family Rental marketplace and management platform, agreed to go public via a merger with PropTech Investment Corp., a SPAC. A deal is valued at $416 million. 

FUNDS + FUNDS OF FUNDS

- Threshold Ventures, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture capital firm, raised $450 for two funds. Their Threshold IV fund raised $375 million and focuses on early-stage/Series A investments. Their Threshold Select fund raised $75 million and focuses on companies they have previously invested in. 

- Tusk Ventures, a New York-based venture capital firm, raised $140 million for a third fund focused on early-stage technology companies operating in highly regulated industries.

- f7 Ventures, a San Francisco-based venture capital fund, raised $50 million for their first fund focused on early stage startups. 

PEOPLE

- 10T Holdings, a Greenwich, Conn.-based growth equity fund, hired Eric Vincent as a partner and president. Formerly, he was with Sarissa Capital Management.

- Acacia Partners, an Austin-based private equity firm, hired Evan Kearns as an associate. Formerly, he was with Baird

- Grafine Partners, a New York-based alternative asset management firm, hired Christine Winslow as managing director. Formerly, she was with PGGM

- Monroe Capital, a Chicago-based asset management firm, hired Gila Cohen as managing director, head of global institutional partnerships. Formerly, she was with MUFG.

- M&G’s Catalyst Team, part of M&G Investments, a London-based investment manager, hired Rana Modarres as impact director. Formerly, she was with Oxfam GB.

- Tusk Ventures, a New York-based venture capital firm, hired Michael LaCerda as CFO and Brad Welch as a partner. Formerly, LaCerda was with BlackRock and Welch was with Morpheus Ventures. The company also promoted Michaela Balderston to partner. 

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