🕶e8: A Look Back at 2020

👋 Good Morning and Happy Sunday! Welcome to the e8 newsletter, a hand-picked collection of business and start-up news, resources for entrepreneurs, job/internship postings, and noteworthy trends that are happening this week! I hope you find this weekly newsletter informative and engaging!

I hope everyone is having an unreal start to the New Year! Time to get after it. This week's edition is going to be quite different from the regular scoop. I am going to look at 3 different companies that have made the newsletter throughout 2020 and speculate if they’ve been a winner or a loser. I thought it would be interesting to “catch up” with companies we’ve talked about and see if my take was right or wrong. Hope you enjoy it :)

**Keep an eye out for a Linkedin post summarizing every article talked about in 2020 this week!


Business/Start-Up News

The Winner Club

Airbnb Comeback

Wow, how do we even start here. At the start, the pandemic seemed as though it would end the top vacation rental site, Airbnb. The company was forced to lay off 25% of its workforce, slash marketing budgets, and take on a staggering $2 billion in debt. However, Airbnb proved to be among the most resilient companies as it debuted IPO as opposed to the “Direct Listing” route. What did we think of Airbnb before its IPO debut? 

Ev’ Old Take

Coronavirus caused uncertainties for companies, but with the help of an exuberant stock market (S&P 500 setting new all time highs), Airbnb is betting on the recovery of the economy, especially business travel, to keep its revenue flowing. Personally, I think investors need to be patient and set realistic expectations for what the near-term future of the company might look like. It takes time to build consumer trust and confidence, and even more resources to maintain that in the long-term. People are only just getting used to the idea of traveling again, nevermind renting a room in a stranger’s home.

Some Recent Facts

  • Airbnb initially priced at $68 a share,and after opening at $146, the stock was up over 110%!!!!

  • The offering was the third largest IPO of 2020 ($3.5 billion offering)

  • Since 2008, it has grown to 4 million hosts with 5.6 million active listings in about 100,000 cities across the globe.

Present Day

While Airbnb dropped investors' jaws, their rapid success in the public markets will have to hold. What I like about the business is that they have low costs (paying for functionality, like websites, servers, etc.) - they don’t own any hard assets and are therefore a high-margin business, which is very nice. This business model proved resilient throughout the course of global shutdowns. Revenues fell to $330 million back in Q2, however received a whopping $1.3 bil in Q3.  So what is next? I think Airbnb will focus on expanding the different service offerings it has on their platforms. After all, what will all of us consumers want to do as soon as things open back up? Go outside and do some fun sh*t. Airbnb will likely start investing and developing out their experience offerings which have always been part of their platform, but not their primary focus. 

HBO Max, What even are you?

Well well well, looks like the awkward kid on the block is finally figuring himself out. When AT&T Warner Media first launched HBO Max, the reception was quite underwhelming with only 87,000 downloads on its first day on the Apple app and Google play store. The road looked terribly uncertain for the platform that didn’t even allow you to watch your shows and movies in 4k aor on an Amazon or Roku stick. What did I think of HBO Max when they launched?

Ev’s Old Take

“While I understand HBO’s desire to get a piece of the streaming service pie, I believe they got it ALL wrong. As HBO Max was set to compete with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more, they fell short in providing the main premium features consumers look for. HBO reminds me of myself freshman year, just trying to figure it all out without any real sense of direction. HBO Max doesn’t seem to max out on any features and will definitely be asking themselves soon - how do we compete in the already advanced market?”

Some Recent Facts

  • HBO Max, which closed the third quarter at 8.6 million activated subscribers in the U.S., has added another 4 million to reach 12.6 million as of early December, according to AT&T CEO John Stankey.

  • AT&T will report its fourth-quarter financial results, as well as updated streaming numbers, in January. Stankey said the company is “pleased” with the progress toward its stated goal of 50 million U.S. subscribers and 75 million to 90 million globally by 2025. “We’re actually ahead of plan,” he said.

Present Day:

Since we last spoke about HBO Max, it is clear that they are here to stay. They’ve managed to put up a fight against the likes of Netflix and Disney+ and are focusing on themselves rather than beating out the competition. First off, they’ve announced that the whole slate of 2021 Warner Brother movies will be available on Max at the same time they release in theaters, a move to give consumers more options for viewing at launch. They are also focusing on a key metric… ARPU (Average Revenue Per User). HBO is banking on its loyal fanbase to cough up $15 a month to keep the streaming service going while Netflix and Disney charge almost half of that. If they manage to keep growing their subscriber count at their current rate, they will outpace their competition in the ARPU metric. Not gonna lie… you worried us in the first half, HBO MAX!”

**Also have to give them props for starting to rollout 4k to multiple devices this past December!

Fat L’s

Quibi

2020 was filled with promises, and we all know how that turned out. Funnily enough that’s what Quibi and the world shared in common. For the ones who are unfamiliar, Quibi is a subscription-based streaming platform designed to showcase short-form content (a native mobile storytelling app so call it). While Quibi gained significant hype early on in their launch and that they were on pace to have 2 million users, we had noted that most of these users were on FREE TRIALS! Of course, that was not sustainable in the long-term. So what went wrong? Well, they mistimed everything..and badly. Quibi decided to launch during the start of the global pandemic instead of delaying the launch until we returned to some level of normalcy.

Ev’s Old Take: 

All I can say is that having a majority of users still on a “free trial” is not conducive to growth. While some believe that Quibi could make a speedy comeback as countries emerge from lockdown, I really think they have a long road ahead, especially as the company has been unwisely investing its funds. As mentioned previously, perhaps instead of pouring money into advertising, Quibi should have invested in a broader array of library content. This would’ve been ideal for testing what works best for mobile-native story formats. 

Present Day:

I think I had totally forgotten about Quibi up until this week when Roku confirmed it would be acquiring Quibi’s content library with an effort to increase its own exclusive content offerings. Did they get a good deal? Well, sorta. The offer included $1 billion worth of content, including 75 shows and documentaries. As reported by WSJ, Roku spent less than $100 million to secure the distribution rights. To clarify, Roku isn't acquiring the content outright - just the exclusive distribution rights. 

I still don’t know how I feel about this deal though. Roku plans on allowing its users to stream the content via their Roku channel for free (but with ads). It’s an interesting move and I applaud Roku for their strategy to try to obtain more consumers to purchase their hardware over the increasing competition such as Google Chromecast, Fire Stick, and more.  


👀 Interesting Follows

💰 Bitcoin’s Wild Weekends Turn Efficient Market Theory Inside Out

🧠 Elon Musk's 6-Word Response to Being the World's Richest Man Is a Lesson in Emotional Intelligence

📹 The Next Zoom Wants To Be Nothing Like Zoom

🚗 Here’s What Nio’s First Sedan To Rival Tesla In China Looks Like

👔 Hybrid Cloud: The Best of Both Worlds


💼 Jobs/Internships

New York

Los Angeles

  • New Analyst Program (Goldman Sachs)

  • 2021 Co-op - Financial Analyst (IBM) / June Start

San Francisco

Chicago

  • Finance Intern (OCC)

  • Corporate Strategy Intern (IBM)

Remote

  • Content Marketing Intern (FirstLook VC)

  • Summer Virtual Intern - The Row (CNN)

  • CBS Network News (CBS)


🎷 Fresh Finds


💯Thank You For Reading, See You Next Week!


What's up, my name is Evan Hiltunen! I am a recent finance grad from Indiana University and financial analyst @ Goldman Sachs. I have a strong passion for start-ups, finance, and technology, and I hope you find this newsletter informative!

I’d love your feedback - feel free to email me at thee8newsletter@gmail.com

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