The Full English – The Crowdfunded Bubble

Calling economic bubbles is a no-lose situation for a blogger. If you’re correct, whoop-de-do, celebrate your foresight. If you’re wrong, you’re a grumpy pessimist but no worse off. With that caveat readers may recall a couple of weeks ago, in the last Full English, I mentioned that Curve had completed crowdfunding with a pre-money valuation of £201,000,000 (1). Yes, that is the correct number of decimal spaces. It left me asking, how the hell are people valuing these companies?

Turns out I’m not alone in wondering that (2). The hard data suggests that the price paid for a percentage of the company by the crowd is far higher than private equity pays (3). For your more expensive price you get B class shares and rarely see information about the valuation in the prospectus. How did we reach this point?

In a world of low interest rates investors are looking for returns. We’ve all read Smarter Investing, we know we should be avoiding active funds that would typically partake of Venture Capital. We exist in an economic climate that favours growth over value strategies. We see success stories like Facebook, Instagram, Monzo, Brewdog, Uber. We want a slice of that growth, and there are new and exciting ways to access it (4). So we apply some cognitive biases; illusion of control and confirmation bias. We can surely pick the winners.

We look to platforms like CrowdCube, Seedrs, etc to find a way in at the ground floor of the next unicorn. Because our purchase is fuelled by optimism (and a whole lot of sales psychology), we’re willing to pay over the odds for the ground floor. This drives competition for shares and increases the valuation of the company. Basic economics. When the company lists on the stock market you get off at the penthouse suite, suddenly a millionaire. The tech IPO procession continues (5).

But that competition for a slice of the pie ignores the companies bottom line. Crowdfunding platforms are slick presentations to consumers, not like the due diligence of a traditional capital firm. The position of power is with the listing company, not the lender. This again drives up the valuation of the market.

The companies, overvalued with optimism, get valued by the market fairly and fall from their listing price. The tech companies that have gone through the IPO process are losing money (6). And people are taking notice. IPOs are being shelved, most notably the recent WeWork delay (7, 8). Traditional institutions do not want an overvalued investment, because in the long run they won’t get a return. They don’t want to see their shares costing billions of dollars through the efficient market (9). While the stock is unlisted the return and gain/loss is not realised.

This isn’t stopping profitable and strong companies going public. AirBnB continues to voice that it will soon, now setting a timeline for next year (10). However as Crowdfunding grows it will continue to offer a window into murky investments, promising a lot but with little to report. It will continue to inflate prices with optimistic opinions of growth. At some point all the optimism becomes a little too sweet, and it’ll be interesting to see if we end up in a crowdfunded private-company rerun of the dot-com crash.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

References:

  1. https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2019/09/151157-fastest-startup-to-ever-hit-4-million-crowdfunding-on-crowdcube-curve-kills-it-now-at-5-5-million/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unicorn_bubble
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/goncalodevasconcelos/2015/05/27/valuations-in-crowdfunding-are-we-all-barking-mad/
  4. https://monevator.com/venture-capital-investing/
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/mar/30/lyft-ipo-stock-market-unicorns-uber-airbnb-slack
  6. https://www.spiked-online.com/2019/09/13/uber-and-out-why-the-tech-unicorns-keep-losing-money/
  7. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49687338
  8. https://moneyweek.com/515081/proof-that-the-tech-company-unicorn-ipo-bubble-is-bursting/
  9. https://marketrealist.com/2019/09/wework-ipo-shelved-unicorn-stocks-lose-luster/
  10. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49761461
  11. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-7452637/Never-ending-Brexit-saga-continues-drag-UK-housing-market-RICS.html
  12. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49752883
  13. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-7468833/Almost-half-banks-cut-fixed-rate-savings-August.html
  14. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/sep/17/britons-are-still-worse-off-than-in-2008-new-research-claims
  15. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49738869
  16. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49567197
  17. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/sep/16/more-than-1400-uk-restaurants-close-as-casual-dining-crunch-bites
  18. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49721436
  19. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-7472389/Sirius-Minerals-shares-crash-fails-secure-funding-mine.html
  20. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49766418
  21. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49720446
  22. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/20/you-may-have-more-time-than-you-think-to-achieve-financial-security.html
  23. https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2019/09/12/michael-burry-index-funds/
  24. https://earlyretirementnow.com/2019/09/17/market-peak-upcoming-recession/
  25. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-how-could-the-financial-services-sector-better-cater-for-the-likes-of-us/
  26. https://monevator.com/my-biggest-fi-demon-status-anxiety/
  27. https://monevator.com/what-is-a-master-trust-pension/
  28. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/09/mitie-dividend.html/
  29. https://cashflowcop.com/csi-finance/
  30. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/09/18/translating-financial-independence-from-american-to-british/
  31. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/09/11/the-ice-sculpture-the-turkey-and-the-rollercoaster/
  32. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/09/afc-energy-portfolio-addition.html
  33. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/09/first-solar-new-addition.html
  34. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/09/bluefield-solar-trust-full-year-results.html
  35. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com/aiming-for-fire/
  36. https://littlemissfire.com/erase-and-rewind/
  37. https://littlemissfire.com/why-im-the-fire-underdog-and-thats-ok/
  38. https://www.msziyou.com/money-is-political/
  39. https://www.msziyou.com/net-worth-updates-august-2019/
  40. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/random-update-aka-what-the-hell-have-i-been-up-to-over-the-last-3-months/
  41. https://thesavingninja.com/how-to-get-a-first-class-flight-for-free/
  42. https://thesavingninja.com/savings-report-14/
  43. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2019/09/13/august-review/
  44. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/09/13/Early-retirement-costs-targets—August-2019
  45. https://pursuefire.com/monthly-update-15-august/
  46. https://pursuefire.com/pursue-fire-updates/
  47. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2019/09/tax-planning-for-retirement-savings.html
  48. https://thefifox.wordpress.com/2019/09/12/how-to-calculate-your-personal-investing-rate-the-usability-update-that-savings-rate-desperately-needs/
  49. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/09/12/db-pension-options/
  50. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/the-importance-of-being-earning/
  51. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/exit-strategy-update-is-it-best-to-quit-your-job-face-to-face/
  52. https://indeedably.com/telephone/
  53. https://indeedably.com/volte-face/
  54. https://indeedably.com/own-goal/
  55. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/09/19/random-shares/
  56. https://lovelygreens.com/tips-for-starting-a-new-vegetable-garden/
  57. https://www.jackwallington.com/allotment-month-46-tomatoes-edamame-apples-raspberries-and-sunflowers/

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