Category: Startups

Investors be on the alert. Blue skies is really blue skies. The term blue skies came from commissioner Dolley in 1911 of Kansas stating “speculative schemes which have no more basis than so many feet of ‘blue sky‘ ” referencing the amount of company stock issued to the amount of blue sky above you. We are currently seeing the risks, schemes, and exploits with initial coin offerings (ICO) violating various securities laws.

The hype continues daily of the newest companies on Ethereum using smart contracts to issue an ICO on the “blockchain” for their business model.  This is very similar to the Dot-Com Boom of the late nineties.  Blockchain gets internet nerds all warm and fuzzy.

Any business with a dot com at the end of its company name that went public in the late nineties  rocketed in price.  The same holds true today but instead of filing correctly, the startup company skips the  necessary procedures needed to lawfully sell stock to the public.  Instead, they issue an ICO for equity without any proper regulatory filings. Who needs a broker dealer right? Licensed brokers? Nah, waste of time when everyone is thirsty. Just pretend, right?

These companies that raise capital as an ICO usually claim they are incorporated in another country or have some other fake exemption like cash balance receivables as equity or whatever they want to make themselves believe.  What ever the company does, if they solicit US investors it has be filed properly. If it looks like a security, smells like a security, then it is a security. ICO’s  are not exempt from these regulations in the US no matter how they want to slice it up as equity.  Those are some of the basic questions the regulators will ask these ICO’S.

Some of the typical security violation are the 1933 Act, 1934 Act, Reg ATS, or Blue Sky’s laws.  Here’s a typical ICO violation and the full PDF details.

Keep in mind, not all ICO’s are scams. But a good warning, if it seems too good to be true then you may want to question it. Do we all hear pump and dump or ponzi schemes?  FINRA Blockchain Report gives some good insight.  As the old saying goes, “Caveat Emptor” or “Buyer Beware”.

Information contained herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell securities, or personalized investment, tax or legal advice. The information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however no guarantee is made or implied with respect to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness. Authors may own the stocks they discuss. The information and content are subject to change without notice. TreveriCapital LLC is a California registered investment advisor.

If the public markets are any sign of the future, unicorn valuations will be difficult to understand.  Public companies are an indicator of comparable private companies.  Public companies are also the most comparable to any private business when seeking valuations because they are constantly being priced during the day with various buyers and sellers.  Although private companies are protected from the volatility of the daily public  markets, private companies have very uncertain valuation numbers especially when they are juiced up.

Even though public companies are public, their valuations are uncertain.  An example is seen here with Linkedin ($LNKD) and Tableau Software ($DATA).  Over night their valuations were annihilated.  LinkedIn has $9.6 billion (-43.63%) and Tableau Software has $2.1 billion (-49.44%) valuation disappear in 24 hours.

LNKD Unicorn

DATA unicorn valuation

As we can see, Wall Street does not hold back.  Eventually these private companies need liquidity for insiders, investors, or expansion.  They either raise another round of fantasy juice, get bought out, or do an initial public offering (IPO).  During this process, valuation is re-analyzed.  If the public markets are any indicator of the future, be mindful of any private company hiccups.

Is this the start of “The Disappearing Unicorn Act?

 

 

Information contained herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell securities, or personalized investment, tax or legal advice. The information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however no guarantee is made or implied with respect to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness. Authors may own the stocks they discuss. The information and content are subject to change without notice. TreveriCapital LLC is a California registered investment advisor.

Unicorn Hunting Permit TreveriCapital Slayer Hunter Alpha Kill

Most people have heard of the term called “Pegasus” or “Unicorn” in the startup world to describe a mythical startup valuation of $10B+ or $1B+.  There is another mythical creature called the “Centaur” with valuations of $100M+ and the “Pony” with valuations of $10M+.  Although the Pegasus and Unicorn are getting all the recognition, Centaur’s and Pony’s may have all the glory for 2016.

There is a new startup landscape on the horizon.  To be a true Unicorn, the companies will be raising capital from investors that will want justification for these current or future valuations.  This means typical Wall St. models will be used for earnings, sales, or growth metrics to show investors the justification of the valuation.  Particular analysis of the most recent 4 quarters and next quarter will be looked at closely.  Instead of throwing money at marketing for user acquisition, costs will be analyzed under a microscope.  Unicorn slaying will be common for these Unicorns that are unable to sustain rapid growth of sales, earnings, or metrics.  Any blips in these quarters can grind the Unicorn into a Unicorn burger.

The risk of high valuation for a Unicorn gets a little ugly when there is limited liquidity.  The SEC is also looking into startup valuation procedures.  As Mark Cuban noted “The only thing worse than a market with collapsing valuations is a market with no valuations and no liquidity.”  Let’s face it, private equity is a different animal than public companies listed on an exchange.  Changing valuations is a risk that all participants will have to deal with.  Because Unicorns are more mature start-up companies, liquidity for owners of the company drops when valuations stay the same or drop.  This is very important because the next round of financing needs a higher valuation in order to make current and potential new investors smile.  These valuations are derived from the prospect of earnings, sales, or growth metrics.

Because of the new strict criteria, investors will be looking at Unicorns or alternatives that have a solid business model, outstanding growth potential, and experienced leadership.  Some of these alternative businesses may be Centaurs and Pony’s for investors to pursue and catch.

2016 will be quite interesting because we will see a rise of institutional investors going into early stage companies in search of Pony’s or Centaurs in hopes of finding a Unicorn.  Some of these Unicorns will transform into the most sought after creatures, the Pegasus.

Disclaimer: Information contained herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell securities, or personalized investment, tax or legal advice. The information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however no guarantee is made or implied with respect to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness. Authors may own the stocks they discuss. The information and content are subject to change without notice. TreveriCapital LLC is a California registered investment advisor.

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