Huge Tech is now value a lot we’ve forgotten to be shocked by the numbers

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TechCrunch isn’t a public-market-focused publication. We care about startups. But public tech companies can, at times, provide interesting insights into how the broader technology market is performing. So we pay what we might call minimum-viable attention to former startups that made it all the way to an IPO.

Then there are the Big Tech companies. In the United States the list is well-known: Facebook, Alphabet, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon. And, in a series of results that could indicate a hot market for startup growth, they had a smashingly good first quarter of 2021. You can read our notes on their results here and here, but that’s just part of the story.

Yes, the Big Tech financial results were good — as they have been for some time — but lost amid the usual earnings deluge of numbers is how shockingly accretive Big Tech’s recent performances have proven for their valuations.

Microsoft fell as low as the $135 per-share range last March. Today it’s worth $252 and change. Alphabet traded down to around $1,070 per share. Today the search giant is worth $2,410 per share.

The result of the huge share-price appreciation is that Apple is now worth $2.21 trillion, Microsoft $1.88 trillion, Amazon $1.76 trillion, Alphabet $1.60 trillion and Facebook $0.93 trillion. That’s around $8.4 trillion for the five companies.

Back in July of 2017, I wrote a piece noting that their aggregate value had reached the $3 trillion mark. That became $4 trillion in mid-2018. And then in the next three years or so it more than doubled again.

Why?

Myles Udland, a reporter at our sister publication Yahoo Finance, has at least part of the puzzle in a piece he wrote this week. Here’s Udland:

And while it seems that almost every earnings story has sort of followed this same arc, data also confirms that this is not just our imagination: corporate earnings have never been this far out of line with expectations.

Data out of the team at Refinitiv published Thursday showed the rate at which companies were beating estimates and the magnitude by which they were beating expectations through Thursday morning’s results were the best on record.

So earnings are beating the street’s guesses more frequently, and at a higher differential, than ever? That makes recent stock-market appreciation less worrisome, I suppose. And it helps explain why startups have been able to raise so much capital lately in the United States, as they have in Europe, and why private-market investors are pouring so much capital into fintech startups. And it’s probably why Zomato is going public and why we’re still waiting for the Robinhood debut.

This is what a market feels like when the underlying businesses are firing on all cylinders, it appears. Just don’t forget that no business cycle is unending, and no boom is forever.

An insurtech interlude

Extending The Exchange’s recent reporting regarding fintech funding, and our roundup from last week of insurtech startup rounds, a few more notes on the latter startup niche, which can be broadly viewed as part of the larger financial technology world.

This time we’ll hear from Accel’s John Locke regarding his investments in The Zebra — which recently raised even more capital — and the insurtech space more broadly.

Asked why insurtech marketplaces like The Zebra have been able to raise so very much money in the last year, Locke said that it’s a mix of “insurance carriers (…) finally embracing marketplaces and willing to design integrated consumer experiences with marketplaces,” along with more consumer “comparison shopping” and, finally, growth and revenue quality.

The Zebra, Locke said, is “still growing north of 100% at ~$120M+ revenue run-rate.” That means it can go public whenever it wants.

But on that matter, there has been some weakness in the stock market for some public insurtech companies. Is Locke worried about that? He’s neutral-to-positive, saying that his firm does not “think all the companies in the market will work but still thinks ‘insurtechs’ will take market share from incumbents over the next decade.” Fair enough.

And Accel is still considering more deals in the space, as are others. Locke said that the venture market for insurtech investments is “definitely more aggressive” this year than last.

Various and sundry

Closing today, a few notes on things that we didn’t get to that matter:

Productboard closed a $72 million Series C. First, that’s a huge round. Second, yes, Tiger did lead the deal. Third, the product management software company has around 4,000 customers today. That’s a lot. Add this company to your two-years-from-now IPO list.
Chinese bike-sharing startup Hello is going public in the United States. We are going to get back to this on Monday, but its F-1 filing is here. The company turned $926.3 million worth of 2020 revenues into $109.6 million in gross profit, and a net loss of $173.7 million in net losses. Yowza.
Darktrace went public this week. I know of it because it sponsors an F1 team that I adore, but it enters our world today as a recent U.K.-listed company. And after Deliveroo went kersplat, the resounding success of the Darktrace listing could make the U.K. a more attractive place to list than it was a week ago.
And, finally, drone delivery is, maybe, coming at last? U.K.-listed venture capital group Draper Esprit led the $25 million round into Manna, which wants to use unmanned drones in Ireland to deliver grub. “Manna sees a huge appetite for a greener, quieter, safer, and faster delivery service,” UKTN reports.

A long, weird week. Make sure to follow the second denizen of The Exchange’s writing team: Anna Heim. Okay! Chat next week!

Alex