It’s still possible to be an Internet millionaire in these settled days of the information superhighway, but the way that startups are getting there is a lot more traditional than in the boom days.
Investment in IPOs was sluggish in 2016, with just 109 companies raising a total of $23.2 billion dollars, according to reporting in the Wall Street Journal. For comparison, 2015 saw 174 IPOs that earned $36.2 billion in valuations.
Finding More Ways to Serve
It’s a difficult time to be a startup, but familiar names like Snapchat, Uber and Airbnb are finding ways to expand their core businesses to be more appealing to investors. Airbnb, for example, is looking to add experiences to the menu in the short term and flights and car rentals down the road.
Airbnb Chief Executive Brian Chesky explained the company’s upcoming plans at a recent conference in LA. Rather than just focus on home-sharing, Airbnb was maturing into a “holistic travel” company that “would make travel magical again.” It’s doing so by eliminating hassles, allowing a customer to order a whole travel package from the same app they use to rent their room.
Like Airbnb, Uber is expanding its efforts into related areas. For example, Uber is now digging into self-driving car development, package and food delivery and will be investigating a freight business in the near future. The company currently has a valuation of $68 billion but hasn’t expressed an interest in launching an IPO yet.
Snap’s Upcoming IPO
Snap, on the other hand, is aggressively pursuing an IPO in the short term. The quick reorganizing of Snapchat’s business to create an umbrella camera company simply called Snap has gotten the attention of investors and customers alike. Its $130 pair of camera sunglasses, known as Spectacles, has really created a huge buzz, with Snapchatters standing in long lines just for a chance to own them.
With IPO papers already filed and predicted debut valuations of as much as $25 billion, Snap may be the one to jump start another round of high-dollar Internet companies vying for the attention of investors this year. Uber’s plans still remain a mystery, as do Airbnb’s, but the one thing that’s certain is that it takes a lot more to launch a successful startup today.
These three names are smartly finding ways to incorporate other aspects of their core business to make themselves far more marketable and will thus be more valuable when IPOs eventually come around.