Technology

How increased acceptability towards EdTech platforms is changing the long-standing traditional education industry?

by Sandeep Kumar

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Edtech market landscape and growth in the short run of pandemic

Edtech abbreviation for Education Technology is the combination of IT tools and educational practices aimed at facilitating and enhancing learning. Edtech encompasses not only the hardware and software program but also the learning theories and the most effective ways to teach people. Edtech solutions are being increasingly adopted as it offers numerous advantages. A majority of educators believe that each student learns at their own pace, a few major benefits that Edtech offers students are the accessibility of resources to learn from and flexibility to train at their individual pace. Another advantage is the comparatively lower cost which makes it more affordable for anyone to expand their knowledge.

Globally the market opportunities amount to $227 Bn and likely to reach $404 Bn by 2025 growing at a CAGR of 16.3%. The global Edtech venture capital funding in 2019 was around $7 Bn, in 2020 this amount increased more than doubled and reached $16.1 Bn! The booming sectors of Edtech are

· K-12 education

· Post-secondary education

· Corporate training

K-12 is the largest segment of the market; however, the highest funding received was by skill development startups. This signifies that the rise of Edtech startups has created awareness for skill development and not just graduation for a successful career.

Snapshots

· Key Players: Byju’s, Yuanfudao, Zuoyebang, VIPKId, Articulate, Udemy. etc.

· Market Size: $227 Bn

· CAGR: 16.3%

· Average Valuation of top 10: $6.49 Bn

Edtech market size ($ Bn)

Source: Holon IQ

The rapid change in industry dynamics post-covid

The pandemic resulted in shutdowns of physical classrooms, globally, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom. To tackle this education changed drastically with the rise of e-learning and remote teaching. Prior to the pandemic, the EdTech sector was growing but at a relatively slower rate as online education was still met with some resistance. The lockdown and fear of COVID-19 spread have taken schools, colleges, and educational institutes online, thus leading to the emergence of many EdTech products and services and a rise in adoption. Though in its nascent stage, there has been a significant transformation in curriculum development and pedagogy where we have moved from thinking digital to being digital.

Drivers of growth

The increasing penetration of mobile devices, easy accessibility to fast internet, and the impact of the pandemic and growing online teaching-learning models to keep running the education system are majorly driving the growth. The presence of interactive and immersive learning can impact several as it increases the level of interaction. Educators are also increasingly adopting newer technologies like AI, virtual reality, and gamification.

Edtech development over the past made the educators doubtful about the impact of technology on improving the outcomes of students. It also created suspicion about overreliance on smart devices. However, the situation is now changing with schools investing more in the attempt to integrate new technology into traditionally delicate educational structures. Employers are also investing in such skills with a focus on leadership and management and creative problem-solving.

China and India are the biggest markets for education in the world. The Asian region has always shown lower-income elasticity for education relative to other sectors. Moreover rising access to digital tools and increasing government initiatives in India and China has further emphasized the importance of education.

VC Deal Size

Source: Pitchbook

Segment-wise market mapping and major players

The ed-tech industry, generally segmented into the Pre-School, K-12, and Higher Education sectors have continued to evolve over the years.

With digital learning, the preschool segment is expected to witness the fastest CAGR from 2021–2028. The global early education market is expected to reach $480 Bn by 2026. Implementation of technology in this segment will enable educators to use applications to maintain records of the students in a much more efficient way, as well as help curate interactive games, storybooks, and other content for early childhood learning. Companies like Makeblock, Tinker Garten, Flintobox, etc., provide interactive activity-based learning for young minds.

The major share is captured by the K-12 sector, with a share of about 41% as of 2020. There are great developments in the education system across the globe that supports experiential learning which is enabled with the help of gamification and AI-based technology. While the use of technology such as interactive whiteboards, learning management systems had already started to gain acceptance before the Covid-19 pandemic era, more focus is shifted towards software that provide O2O tutoring, virtual field trips, interactive lab experiments, etc. Key players in the K-12 segment are BYJU’S, K12 Inc., Kahoot, Khan Academy, Chegg, Quizlet among others.

The global higher education market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.2% from 2019–2027. With university and college fees soaring, people are relying more on edtech platforms for e-learning, college or career preparations, and even financial assistance. Professionals in the modern world are constantly required to constantly upskill themselves to match with the evolving job opportunities. Thanks to MOOC platforms, one can now have access to the world’s top university courses, sitting at home. Major edtechs like Coursera, upGrad Education, Udemy, Skillsoft, DataCamp, etc. make learning an easy and affordable process for young aspirants and professionals.

Innovations and new technologies leading to a colossal $404 billion market in the future

Implementation of the latest technology contributes significantly to the growth of the edtech industry.

Valuation multiples for the global edtech space

Global peer comparision and their EV/Revenue Multiple

Edtech sector provides a lucrative investment opportunity with high growth prospects, but as evident by the peer comparison as the company grows the market saturates as most of the available opportunities have already been captured. We are cautiously optimistic about entering into the market as later into the life cycle of the business chances of above-par returns will be sleek.

The edtech conundrum: necessity or costly?

Online courses and programs offer cheaper options for learning than traditional education options. According to reports, a degree course in a traditional university or college costs a total average of $85,000. On the flip side, an online degree costs $30,000. This means enrolling for a course online offers students the opportunity to save more tuition fees and boot camps while enjoying greater flexibility. However, that doesn’t mean that the traditional method is not all bad; they offer tangible learning and study experience and access to university resources.

In our opinion both methods have several offerings and calling on better than the other won’t be right as both have their pros and cons. This brings us to the inevitable, that integration of both the methods is the way going forward.

– – – – – 

This article has been co-authored by Ayush Dugar and Tamanna Kapur, who is in the Research and Insights team of Torre Capital.

AgriTech Market — How Technology is Paving Way for Modern Farming?

by Sandeep Kumar

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Significance of Technology in Agriculture

From traditional hand farming to use of tractors, high yielding seeds, and now to the use of technology such as artificial intelligence, sensors, robotics, etc. the scenario of the agriculture industry has evolved over the years. Agritech refers to the use of technology for farming that brings efficiency to the yield. It improves the farming process through various functions like analyzing weather, soil, temperature, etc. to not not only provide a large scale of production and profitability, but also focuses on the quality of the produce. In current times, special focus has been on using technology to ensure sustainable farming.

The world population is growing at an increasing pace and is expected to reach about 10 billion by 2050. As a result, there is a growing need to fulfill the demand for food. The Agritech market is projected to reach $42 Bn by 2027, growing with a CAGR of 12% from 2020–2027. It is estimated that the agtech market has generated approximately $280 Bn in revenue over the year 2020. Even with a single digit annual rate of growth, the market is expected to generate $345 Bn by 2025.

Key Industry Highlights

● Market Size: $19 Bn

● CAGR: 12% (2020–2027)

● Estimated Revenue: $280 Bn

● Deal Value: $6.4 Bn

● Key Players: AeroFarms, Provivi, Apeel Sciences, Agrobot, Prevenio, etc.

Agritech Gaining VCs Trust through Investments

The growing need for food, sustainable farming, and the need for automation has made investors realise the importance of the market. As a result, agritech is witnessing an increase in the investment activity, particularly since the onset of the pandemic which highlighted the vulnerabilities of the sector such as supply-chain breakdown, labour shortages, risk of infection,etc.

The Agritech sector has witnessed $1.5 Bn being raised across 153 deals, in just the first quarter of 2021. This has been the fourth straight quarter where at least $1.5 billion was raised. The biotechnology segment in agritech has absorbed maximum contribution from the VCs. Some companies within the segment that received significant funding include DNAnexus, Pairwise, Enko, with Caribou Biosciences receiving one of the largest deals of Q1 2021 equivalent to $115 Mn in its Series C round.

Source: Pitchbook

Acceptability Towards Agritech in Various Regions

Looking at different regions, North America is leading the agritech market. VC deals in the North American region have been more than 40% since 2014. In 2019, the region was estimated to have a revenue share of 38.6% of the market, followed by APAC and Europe. After USA, India had recorded the second-highest number of deals in agritech, with a total deal value of about $250 Mn in 2019. These trends are expected to continue as the governments are building infrastructure for rural development and making other such favourable investments that are boosting the agritech market in the region. Farmers in most regions have been resistant to change, however favourable results from the innovative products will ultimately motivate them to try them. In most nations, the growth of agritech has been comparatively slow as it requires huge amounts of R&D and investments. Despite these drawbacks, we expect the agritech market to receive greater acceptability from all around the globe as there is growing need for sustainable farming that can keep up the food levels with growing population without compromising on the environmental conditions.

Source: Agritech VC Deal ($Bn) by Region — Pitchbook

Blooming Opportunities for Modern Farming

Boosting Plant Growth through Pollination-Tech:

Pollination is the most important part of agriculture with about 90% of the flowering plants requiring it. The global pollination market size, which is estimated to be around $60 Bn in value, will prove as an emerging opportunity in the sector. Different types of plants require different levels of pollination. As the importance of pollination is realised, new startups are coming up with new techniques to facilitate artificial pollination through use of technology like IoT sensors, machine learning, lasers, etc. along with the development of rental bee colonies. Some companies working in this direction include The Bee Corp, ApisProtech, PowerPollen, Beewise, etc.

●Improving the Shelf Life of the Produce:

The longer distances and supply chain disruptions have put a special focus on improving the shelf life of the agriculture produce in order to reduce food wastage. The market size for post-harvest treatments is projected to reach $2.3 Bn by 2026, globally. While improvement in shelf-life of food products prove profitable for retail grocers, it is important to note that since each crop has different properties, unique treatments have to be formulated for each of them. This reduces the scope of adaptability of solutions. Some companies working to enhance shelf life of agricultural produce include Apeel Sciences, Hazel Technologies, Mori, etc.

●Solving Harvesting Challenges through Automation and Robotics:

Since harvesting is a labour-intensive activity, any shortage in labour could limit the operation capabilities of the producer. This has been a challenge in some areas, particularly during the pandemic. These challenges have paved an opportunity for automation and robotics in the agriculture market. The global agriculture robotics market is estimated to be $5 Bn in 2020 and is projected to reach $27 Bn by the year 2026. While the harvest robotics is still budding with most companies in pilot and pre-commercialization stages, the use of technologies like computer vision, 3D perception, and artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to drive the market through its use in both indoor and outdoor farming. Some companies that are engaged in building harvest robots include Tortuga AgTech, Agrobot, Tevel Aerobotics, etc.

A Fruitful Way Towards Sustainable Agriculture

Due to the growing population and the depleting resources, there is a greater need to focus on the agriculture market. Agritech is playing a significant role in ensuring that enough resources are produced to feed the entire population of the world, without compromising on sustainability. The use of modern technologies in the field has significantly reduced the amount of resources required for production. For instance, weeding robots reduce the use of harmful pesticides by 90%, shelf life extension has the capability to add 10% increase in sales. There are several such advantages.

While farmers in some areas who have been engaged in traditional farming might be a bit reluctant to these technologies as they involve huge costs for them, support from government, development of appropriate infrastructure, reduction in costs will encourage them to adopt these measures. Investors have started to realise its significance. This is evident from growing investor traction in agritech. The market has attracted $6.4 Bn in funding in the year 2020. We can say that the agritech market is a low hanging fruit that would benefit both producers and investors in the long run.

– – – – – 

This article has been co-authored by Tamanna Kapur, who is in the Research and Insights team of Torre Capital.

How Mobile Gaming Is Moving Towards Its Pinnacle In India?

by Sandeep Kumar

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Evolution Of Mobile Gaming In India

As our phones have become smarter over the years, the mobile gaming scenario has evolved. From the snakes game on your Nokia phone to PUBG, the mobile gaming sector has progressed manifold. 

The mobile gaming market in India dates back to the late 1990s, just a few years after the introduction of mobile phones in India. While the Snakes game introduced mobile gaming in India, Console and PC gaming companies started to take interest in mobile gaming in the early 2000s and invested their money which led to the growth of the market. In 2008, the launch of Apple and Android App Stores completely changed the mobile gaming scenario as it opened the world of games to every smartphone user. Digital payments also opened opportunities for mobile gaming companies to generate revenue directly from the players by charging premiums, offering upgrades, or through in-app purchases. This incentivised the entry of many firms into the market. In 2016 alone, Indian developed games were on the top of the local download charts on GooglePlay. With the launch of the most hyped game – PUBG in 2018, led to the double-digit growth of the number of mobile players in India.

Even though the Indian Government put a ban across some of the gaming apps due to data privacy concerns, the market has continued to witness growth during the pandemic as people look for different entertainment options. The growth trajectory is expected to continue as long as e-gaming companies integrate advanced technologies into their platforms, and provide even better customer experience through user-friendly UIs.

 

Key Highlights of the Sector

  • Key Players: Dream11, Junglee Games, Paytm First Games, WinZO, MPL
  • Market Size: $1.2 Bn
  • CAGR: 6.1%
  • Average Revenue per User: $8.88
  • Total Funding: $544 Mn (August 2020-January 2021)
  • Total Mobile Gamers: 365 Million

 

Competitive Landscape

With about 400 Indian startups working in the e-gaming sector, the market faces high levels of competition with several homegrown companies operating in the field, such as  WinZO, MPL, Nazara Technologies, Gamezop,etc. There is a high degree of competition in each gaming genre. Among growing competition where companies are struggling to gain revenue, Dream 11 is ruling the Indian markets with more than 80 million users in FY 2020. The growth of the company can be attributed to the rise in fantasy gaming and its endorsement by MS Dhoni. New companies are trying to make their mark in virtual gaming by providing innovative platforms and enhanced customer experience, through the use of advanced technologies like AR and VR. 

 

A $1.2 Bn Market, Mobile Gaming is Flourishing 

The penetration of smartphones and internet in the Indian markets has led to the rapid growth of the e-gaming sector in India. On the basis of devices, mobile users constitute 85% of the industry. India is among the top ten mobile gaming markets in the world, having a market size of about $1.2 Bn as of 2020 and it is expected that the market will continue to witness growth with a CAGR of 6.1% during the period 2020-2025. 

There are over 365 million mobile gamers in the country. The Covid-19 pandemic has fueled the growth of the industry as people look for alternate options for their entertainment while staying away from their friends and families. Mobile games allow people to connect with each other virtually, thereby fulfilling the social void. Moreover, some games even allow players to earn real money. By continuously adapting to new technologies and providing more localised and user-friendly customer experiences, the industry is expected to continue on its growth trajectory in the near future.

 

Source: Inc42Plus Report

Revenue Model of the gaming industry

The 2019 revenue estimates of major gaming and eSports companies in India was around $68 Mn. Let us look at some direct and indirect ways in which gaming companies generate their revenues. 

  • Free to play games – Users can play these games for free, however it comes with some in-app purchases of some additional items or in-game currencies, that may provide some incentive to the player in one form or another.
  • Freemium – Similar to the Free-to-play model, Freemium games allows users to play the basic version of the game for free, and requires them to pay a premium or charge to access the upgrades. Although it is the most popular model, the Freemium model is not helping startups to generate more revenue.
  • Advertising – Most games do not charge the players, but instead use advertising as a source of generating revenues. Ads may be interstitial that are placed in between level-based progressions, incentivised ads or contextual ads.
  • Shareware – Shareware model enables users to first play the trial version of the game, before they pay to unlock the complete version of the game. The demo version provides the gameplay experience and encourages them to purchase the full game.  

In India, most of the revenue for mobile gaming companies is generated through advertisements. A small proportion comes from in-game purchases, however this is likely to increase as disposable incomes of people are on the rise and more people take gaming more seriously. Other ways in which gaming companies generate income are through co-branding and sale of game merchandise, like t-shirts, posters etc. Some companies may also engage in strategic partnerships. 

Funding and M&A Landscape – How is the Market Garnering Investor’s Interest ?

The Indian e-gaming market has started to attract investors from around the world. Looking at the history, the mobile gaming sector has raised over $306 Mn in total during 2014 and H1 of 2020. The maximum share goes to the fantasy segment, consisting of about 59% of the total share, which amounts to $180 Mn.

Source: Inc42 Plus Report

The Indian gaming market has attracted a total $544 Mn funds during the period August 2020 to January 2021. This funding amount is expected to double in the next couple of years. Moreover, in recent years, a major part of the fundings has gone to growth stage startups. For instance, Dream11 received $225 Mn in investments in September 2020, and MPL received fundings worth $90 Mn in November 2020. Although there has not been any significant M&A activity in the mobile gaming market in India, as the market is expanding domestic and international firms are on a cautious lookout for acquiring stakes and consolidations with Indian startups. 

 

Boosters for the Mobile Gaming Sector

Technological advancements, like the use of Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are expected to drive the market. The use of supporting hardware devices like headsets and mobile consoles improve the gaming experience of the players. A steady growth of more than 40% in mobile gaming equipment has been witnessed by hardware companies. Going forward, improved customer experience and customer relationship management will play an integral part in the e-gaming sector, by providing quick solutions and smooth services to the users. The growing importance of cloud-based services will also enter in the gaming world, especially with the roll out of fiber-based broadband service Jio Fiber by Reliance Jio Infocomm. 

 

Industry Issues and Challenges

The increasing popularity of the mobile gaming industry and low entry barriers has increased the competition in the market. With several companies providing games in the similar genre, it is important for them to retain customers as the gamers have very low switching costs.

Compared to the market spread, the investments in the industry are comparatively low. As a result, most gaming companies are unable to explore the technological infrastructure for the development of the sector. Some games also require high performance hardware that may be costlier. Hence, are unable to reach higher participation rates.

Another aspect that raises concern for the e-gaming industry in India is the policy and regulatory framework of the country. The lack of well-defined laws on online games, gamble, and fantasy sports proves to be a risk for some segments of the market. Last year, several gaming apps were banned over data privacy concerns. 

 

Outlook and Recommendations

India has surely evolved into one of the biggest markets for mobile gaming in the world, with some big firms operating in the sector such as Nazaran Technologies, Dream11, MPL,etc. Despite this the average revenue is just $8.88 per user, which is far behind the top five nations. While it is expected that with increase in disposable income, this is expected to increase in the future, companies should equally focus on other ways of generating revenue, that is through co-branding, collaborations with tech-firms. Moreover, companies should focus on attracting an audience through social media networks and gain support of online game streamers. With a major proportion of the Indian population below the age of 25 years, this seems the right time to establish e-gaming industry in India, which would generate revenue for players as well as the developers.

– – – – –

This article has been co-authored by Tamanna Kapur, who is in the Research and Insights team of Torre Capital.

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How increased acceptability towards EdTech platforms is changing the long-standing traditional education industry?

by Sandeep Kumar

Keep up to date with the latest research

Edtech market landscape and growth in the short run of pandemic

Edtech abbreviation for Education Technology is the combination of IT tools and educational practices aimed at facilitating and enhancing learning. Edtech encompasses not only the hardware and software program but also the learning theories and the most effective ways to teach people. Edtech solutions are being increasingly adopted as it offers numerous advantages. A majority of educators believe that each student learns at their own pace, a few major benefits that Edtech offers students are the accessibility of resources to learn from and flexibility to train at their individual pace. Another advantage is the comparatively lower cost which makes it more affordable for anyone to expand their knowledge.

Globally the market opportunities amount to $227 Bn and likely to reach $404 Bn by 2025 growing at a CAGR of 16.3%. The global Edtech venture capital funding in 2019 was around $7 Bn, in 2020 this amount increased more than doubled and reached $16.1 Bn! The booming sectors of Edtech are

· K-12 education

· Post-secondary education

· Corporate training

K-12 is the largest segment of the market; however, the highest funding received was by skill development startups. This signifies that the rise of Edtech startups has created awareness for skill development and not just graduation for a successful career.

Snapshots

· Key Players: Byju’s, Yuanfudao, Zuoyebang, VIPKId, Articulate, Udemy. etc.

· Market Size: $227 Bn

· CAGR: 16.3%

· Average Valuation of top 10: $6.49 Bn

Edtech market size ($ Bn)

Source: Holon IQ

The rapid change in industry dynamics post-covid

The pandemic resulted in shutdowns of physical classrooms, globally, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom. To tackle this education changed drastically with the rise of e-learning and remote teaching. Prior to the pandemic, the EdTech sector was growing but at a relatively slower rate as online education was still met with some resistance. The lockdown and fear of COVID-19 spread have taken schools, colleges, and educational institutes online, thus leading to the emergence of many EdTech products and services and a rise in adoption. Though in its nascent stage, there has been a significant transformation in curriculum development and pedagogy where we have moved from thinking digital to being digital.

Drivers of growth

The increasing penetration of mobile devices, easy accessibility to fast internet, and the impact of the pandemic and growing online teaching-learning models to keep running the education system are majorly driving the growth. The presence of interactive and immersive learning can impact several as it increases the level of interaction. Educators are also increasingly adopting newer technologies like AI, virtual reality, and gamification.

Edtech development over the past made the educators doubtful about the impact of technology on improving the outcomes of students. It also created suspicion about overreliance on smart devices. However, the situation is now changing with schools investing more in the attempt to integrate new technology into traditionally delicate educational structures. Employers are also investing in such skills with a focus on leadership and management and creative problem-solving.

China and India are the biggest markets for education in the world. The Asian region has always shown lower-income elasticity for education relative to other sectors. Moreover rising access to digital tools and increasing government initiatives in India and China has further emphasized the importance of education.

VC Deal Size

Source: Pitchbook

Segment-wise market mapping and major players

The ed-tech industry, generally segmented into the Pre-School, K-12, and Higher Education sectors have continued to evolve over the years.

With digital learning, the preschool segment is expected to witness the fastest CAGR from 2021–2028. The global early education market is expected to reach $480 Bn by 2026. Implementation of technology in this segment will enable educators to use applications to maintain records of the students in a much more efficient way, as well as help curate interactive games, storybooks, and other content for early childhood learning. Companies like Makeblock, Tinker Garten, Flintobox, etc., provide interactive activity-based learning for young minds.

The major share is captured by the K-12 sector, with a share of about 41% as of 2020. There are great developments in the education system across the globe that supports experiential learning which is enabled with the help of gamification and AI-based technology. While the use of technology such as interactive whiteboards, learning management systems had already started to gain acceptance before the Covid-19 pandemic era, more focus is shifted towards software that provide O2O tutoring, virtual field trips, interactive lab experiments, etc. Key players in the K-12 segment are BYJU’S, K12 Inc., Kahoot, Khan Academy, Chegg, Quizlet among others.

The global higher education market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.2% from 2019–2027. With university and college fees soaring, people are relying more on edtech platforms for e-learning, college or career preparations, and even financial assistance. Professionals in the modern world are constantly required to constantly upskill themselves to match with the evolving job opportunities. Thanks to MOOC platforms, one can now have access to the world’s top university courses, sitting at home. Major edtechs like Coursera, upGrad Education, Udemy, Skillsoft, DataCamp, etc. make learning an easy and affordable process for young aspirants and professionals.

Innovations and new technologies leading to a colossal $404 billion market in the future

Implementation of the latest technology contributes significantly to the growth of the edtech industry.

Valuation multiples for the global edtech space

Global peer comparision and their EV/Revenue Multiple

Edtech sector provides a lucrative investment opportunity with high growth prospects, but as evident by the peer comparison as the company grows the market saturates as most of the available opportunities have already been captured. We are cautiously optimistic about entering into the market as later into the life cycle of the business chances of above-par returns will be sleek.

The edtech conundrum: necessity or costly?

Online courses and programs offer cheaper options for learning than traditional education options. According to reports, a degree course in a traditional university or college costs a total average of $85,000. On the flip side, an online degree costs $30,000. This means enrolling for a course online offers students the opportunity to save more tuition fees and boot camps while enjoying greater flexibility. However, that doesn’t mean that the traditional method is not all bad; they offer tangible learning and study experience and access to university resources.

In our opinion both methods have several offerings and calling on better than the other won’t be right as both have their pros and cons. This brings us to the inevitable, that integration of both the methods is the way going forward.

– – – – – 

This article has been co-authored by Ayush Dugar and Tamanna Kapur, who is in the Research and Insights team of Torre Capital.

BYJU’s: The next big tech unicorn to curb the appetite for IPOs in the Indian Markets

by Sandeep Kumar

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BYJU’S is India’s biggest training organization and the maker of India’s most famous K-12 learning application, which offers profoundly versatile, drawing-in, and powerful learning programs for understudies. Revaluating how understudies learn in the time of cell phones, the BYJU’S approach consolidates top-notch instructors, demonstrated educational strategies, creative innovation, and information science to convey customized learning across grades. Byju’s likewise offers to instruct administrations for cutthroat tests, for example, JEE, NEET, CAT, IAS, and worldwide tests like GRE and GMAT.

Since India authorized a lockdown in the nation over in late March, closing schools and other public spots, Bangalore-settled start-up Byju’s has arisen as one of the quintessential stages for school-going understudies on the planet’s second-biggest web market. It took the start-up around four and a half years to gather 40 million understudies. Since the lockdown, its client base has expanded to 65 million.

Snapshots 

  • Notable Investors: Blackstone, Blackrock, Ant Group, Tiger Global, T. Rowe Price, Silverlake
  • Last Funding Round: Series F (Nov 2019)
  • Amount: $ 1.5 Bn
  • Valuation: $15 Bn
  • Employees: 21,000+
  • Founder: Byju Raveendran and Divya Gokulnath

The market for fast-growing IT stocks

The education market in India as a whole is worth around $135 Bn with approximately 360 Mn learners. The Edtech segment of India is divided into 6 parts:

· Pre K-12

· K-12

· Test Preparation

· Higher education

· Continued learning

· B2B Edtech areas

The opportunity in the Edtech market is huge and Edtech startups are contending for a larger share of the pie. The Indian Edtech market investments in 2020 were led by big names like Byju’s, Unacademy, Toppr, etc. The market managed to garner $2.22 Bn funding in 2020 up from $553 Mn in 2019. Byju’s and Unacadmey have been the MVPs raisng over $1.64 Bn and $347.5 Mn. 

As there is a shift in methods of teaching there is an increase in focus on self paced learning and the idea of continued learning after college through professional courses this has been the driving force behind the innovations of the content is made and how it is delivered to the consumer. There are quite a few factors at play that led to the growth of investments in Edtech market. A major one being the increase in government spending allocation to the education sector from $ 11.3 Bn in 2018–19 to $ 13.2 Bn in 2020–21 and the launch of the National Education Policy this year. Another driver of growth is the increasing internet penetration in India especially in tier 3 and 4 cities

 

The pandemic fever

In just a matter of days, the pandemic forced people indoors that changed the way they worked and lived. Lockdown, though confining for the public at large was a gate opener for the Edtech market that was looking for a breakout in investor’s attention. An abundance of startups was able to benefit from the favorable conditions created in the market. Also, many new startups popped up across sub-segments to ride the Edtech wave this year. Large and small Edtech companies offering solutions for remote learning witnessed off-the-charts levels of activity — up by as much as 600%.

Global scenario and opportunities

Education has been one of the most traditional industries, however, that is changing in recent years we have seen applications of advanced technology in education and learning. Education is no longer only associated with the traditional classroom. The learning process now tends to leverage Edtech solutions like online classes, learning management systems, and others to make education more effective and accessible. The pandemic lead to further growth in demand for Edtech solutions sets the pace in the Edtech industry for many years to come.

 

 Source: Holon IQ

China, with the largest education market in the world, has led education VC investment growth over the past five years. China now makes up over 60% of all Global VC investment in education, the USA 15%, India, 14%, and Europe 5% in 2020. While not as large, VC investment in Indian Edtech is worthy of note, growing almost 4x since 2018.

Is it undervalued or overvalued?

A plethora of investors and VCs back Byju’s, some of the most prominent names are The BlackStone Group, Blackrock, T. Rowe Price, etc. Byju’s raised approximately $1.55 Bn in its latest funding round Series F (Jun 2021) which increased its market valuation to $15.05 Bn

 

 

Byju’s most prominent competitors namely Vedantu, Unacademy and Toppr have an average Enterprise Value to Revenue Multiple close to 136x which is way higher than Byju’s 15x.

Peer comparison

Strategic partnerships

Over the years Byju’s have had numerous mergers and acquisitions, to name a few Vidyartha, Osmo, Labin App, WhiteHat Jr. and the most recent one Aakash Educational Services Ltd(AESL). With these acquisitions, all in edtech startups having their own niche offering, Byju’s is becoming on giant umbrella encompassing everything. The acquisition of WhiteHat Jr. aims to expand its product offerings, and widen its base in India, as well as the US where WhiteHatJr already has a presence. The latest acquisition of AESL, a leader in test prep services, brings together the best in offline and online learning. They aim to create India’s largest digitally enabled, omnichannel test preparation company.

The road ahead

Going forward Byju’s is planning to launch Byju’s Future School, the startup’s international business, which will be led by Karan Bajaj, founder of WhitHat Jr., which Byju’s acquired last year. The company plans to expand internationally in U.S., U.K., Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico next month and explore other geographies later this year. At launch, BYJU’S Future School will offer coding and math lessons. New subjects like Music, English and Fine Arts will be part of future plans. The company aims to reach 350mn users worldwide by FY 2022. The company is also piloting a model in India where schools are working with BYJU’S in imparting coding education within the school curriculum.

Conclusion

With the plans to expand its operation across cities and internationally, the company has the necessary funds for the expansion and investing in R&D of new methods of augmented learning through Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and analytics. Banking on the massive subscriber base with the aim to expand it further, Byju’s will sure have data to feed its models and be able to provide truly customizable learning for each individual subscriber.

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This article has been co-authored by Ayush Dugar and Khubaib Abdullah, who is in the Research and Insights team of Torre Capital.

Paytm: What you need to know about the Indian Payments Solution Giant, and the would-be Billion Dollar IPO

by Sandeep Kumar

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Paytm or Payment through mobile is India’s leading payment processing, commerce, and digital wallet application. It’s a brand of the parent company One97 Communications and was launched by Vijay Sharma in 2010. The app allows you to carry out various transactions from paying your local vendor to paying your electricity bill and much more. It started as an online payment and recharge service and transformed into a virtual and marketplace bank model providing several services like mobile banking, recharge, online marketplace, etc. Paytm has catered to more than 250 million users in the last 8 years. It has the capacity of handling more than 5000 transactions per second.

Snapshot

How does Paytm make money and its revenue stream?

Paytm was initially launched as a bill payment and mobile recharge platform, later it introduced several other services on its platform and came up with the concept of Paytm Wallet, Payments Bank, and online marketplace.

 

Cost structure

Paytm serves a large number of users, which is why it is so cost-driven. Its platform and customer acquisition account for the majority of its costs. This is a common expense faced by many organizations around the world where the cost of acquiring new customers is very substantial. The amount of money spent on this process is more than the returns earned.

 

Valuation and funding history

Global peer comparison

The story so far

According to data released by the National Payment Corporation of India (NCPI) number of digital payments per capita currently is 22.42 per month. The cumulative value of transactions made through payment gateways stood at INR 29.5 Tn ($40 Bn). Also, the payments sector has the highest number of fintech startups. According to IBEF Digital payments in India are expected to increase over three-folds to INR7092 Tn ($100.61 Tn) by 2025 on account of government policies. Mobile payments will drive around 3.5%of total digital payments of INR7092 Tn (US$ 100.61 Tn) by the financial year 2025, up from the current one percent.

Market scenario

India had always been a cash-obsessed economy and now it’s one of the leading countries adopting technology and digitization across its industries. The digital payment market, though adolescent is exciting. Both the public and private sectors are going through rapid digital transformation driven by the increasing use of mobile internet and progressive regulatory policies. The sector has been evolving since demonetization and the pandemic has accelerated the digital shift. A coming couple of years will witness a completely new way of how money moves within the Indian economy.

Impact of e-commerce

The growth of e-commerce along with the emergence of digital wallets played the role of catalyst for digital payments. The e-commerce payments market historically dominated by cash is evolving to meet the demands of its increasingly smartphone-led online shopping culture, with cards and digital wallets rising in prominence. Cards are the most commonly used online payment method despite the fact that credit card penetration per capita is 0.02 and debit card penetration is 0.64. Digital wallet is the fastest growing method and accounts for more than a quarter of all e-commerce payments. To lure the consumers, the digital wallets doled out lucrative offers and cashback to get consumers on board using the payment channel.

Market competition

The market is a highly competitive one with that the NCPI of India has set out new guidelines for digital payment apps limiting their share in the overall volume of transactions on the unified payment interface at 30%. The UPI segment is dominated by PhonePe and Google Pay who have a combined share of more than 80%. The digital wallet segment is completely dominated by Paytm with close to 50% market share. Paytm has taken an integrated route by adding multiple services in its portfolio such as lending, Insurtech, Weathtech, payments bank along with EDC terminals, gateway aggregator & e-commerce. Similarly, PhonePe is offering Insurtech and Weathtech, and Google Pay will be entering into lending and Insurtech.

Value propositions

Paytm offers a variety of services some of the prominent offerings are recharge, top-ups, tickets, hotels and etc. It then diversified into new services like the digital wallet with a match-making model. The two customer groups of the company are the individual account holders that deposit money in the wallet and the merchants who accept the payment. To increase the attractiveness and adoption of various new lines of services targeting the two customer bases were started:

Value creation

Companies are benefitted from the ability to receive a wide range of digital payment methods, both online and in-store. Along with the more traditional ways like debit and credit cards, this also includes a few nascent innovations such as QR codes, Paytm’s own digital wallet service, and United Payments Interface.

Future plans, innovations, and alliances

Paytm is en route to becoming a full-stack financial services provider. Setting up the digital bank and venturing into Weathtech and Insurtech, the company has entered into quite a few key strategic partnerships. To forward their Insurtech plan the company acquired Raheja QBE General Insurance Company, a provider of general insurance plans. Paytm also strengthened up its credit offerings by tying up with SBI Cards to provide contactless credit cards. Paytm Payments Bank was proactive in entering into a partnership with ride-hailing companies like Ola and Uber. This will empower more than 1 lakh driver-partners to conveniently use Paytm FASTags and seamlessly commute across the country, according to Paytm.

Digital gold

Owing to the digitization of the Indian gold market in recent times, Paytm has collaborated with MMTC-PAMP (a well-known gold refiner), to provide a safe platform for its users to purchase, sell and store digital gold. Paytm claims to facilitate the purchase of 99.99% pure gold for as low as Re.1 and store them at an insured vault for no cost.

Conclusion

A mobile wallet’s value proposition includes not only the payment services but also the value-added services that can be provided in a mobile-enabled environment. In a fast-changing and extremely competitive world, no one wants to be left behind in the fight for customer acquisition. Paytm has evolved rapidly and has earned a name for itself in the Indian financial and business sectors. The fact that it grew from a small startup to a massive corporation in such a short period of time demonstrates the further opportunities for growth in the digital space and how innovation is being used effectively in India.

This article has been co-authored by Ayush Dugar and Pranav Agarwal, who is in the Research and Insights team of Torre Capital.

 

Zomato IPO: Analysing the future of the Indian Foodtech giant

by Sandeep Kumar

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The future of Indian Foodtech is here

The food delivery and restaurant service tech giant, Zomato plans to go for an IPO this June or July. The IPO catches headlines, not just because of the amount being raised or the time when the IPO comes (both of which we discuss later), but also because Zomato could as well be the very first Indian Unicorn to go public. This shall be a momentous moment for not just the tech startup, but also for the entire startup community in India. The IPO could open doors to a new form of exit for the Indian founders and VC firms and cement India’s position as a startup friendly nation.

Zomato plans to raise over a billion dollars(!). This will be the biggest IPO since March 2020 after SBI Cards IPO at close to $1.3 Bn.

Business Model

Zomato was founded in 2008 as a simple restaurant reviews website. In 2015, Zomato entered a very crowded Indian food delivery space. Since then the landscape has changed completely. Out of the numerous startups (FoodPanda, TinyOwl, Scootsy, OlaCafe, UberEats) that were offering to deliver your food, chances are today you order food from one of these three: Zomato, Swiggy or Amazon (Amazon currently offers food delivery services in and around Bangalore). What happened to the rest? Well, most shut down, while the rest were acquired and then shut down. Barely a handful which were acquired by Zomato or Swiggy operate within, not independently.

Zomato acts as a restaurant discovery platform aggregating menus, dishes, user reviews and more. Zomato has nearly 3.5 lakh restaurants listings on its platform with more restaurants expected to join in as the pandemic and the induced lockdowns play a havoc on their dine in revenue streams. These restaurants pay Zomato a fee for greater exposure on the platform. The hope is, once a customer tried the food, chances are they will pay a visit to the restaurant. Now the pains and the faults in this premise make for a story for some other day. 

Zomato’s next line of revenue is the exclusive paid membership program very creatively titled “Zomato Pro”(earlier known as Zomato Gold), offering special discounts and/or free deliveries to is subscribed members. This membership model works how a gym does, take the membership fee and then hope the service is not utilised. Zomato has one advantage though, it can decide what discount to offer and/or what price to charge (dynamic pricing), based on traffic conditions, meal hours, order quantity etc. Zomato currently has 1.4 Million pro members and over 25k restaurants listed on Zomato Pro program.

Not all restaurants choose to be a part of the Zomato Pro program as these restaurants are also expected to offer discounts and offers on dine in options as well and maybe not all restaurants find themselves in such a position (again a story for some other day).

Zomato’s next stream of revenue comes from Hyperpure which supplies raw material to restaurants. This is a genius move in my opinion, at least theoretically. Zomato’s food delivery business allows it to forecast the raw material demands of a restaurant. Efficient buying practices and careful hedging (Zomato is in no position to carry out hedges against sharp commodity price movements, simply because it does not do enough volumes to justify this sort of a thing) can allow Zomato to up sell these raw materials, earning a constant cut.

If the hedging works, the restaurants are also set to benefit as they will receive a fixed price for their raw materials, allowing prior ordering. Zomato currently has 6000 restaurants on its Hyperpure platform in just two years.

And finally comes the last source of revenue (no need to be amazed, all this revenue does not trickle down to the bottom line), the delivery partners delivering your food. Here Zomato earns commission from the restaurants as well as the delivery charges from the customer (yes, all those extra delivery charges you paid and still these guys aren’t profitable…).

  Source: Zomato’s DRHP

Now Zomato does not give a breakup of how much revenue it makes from each segment, but nevertheless, most of the revenue comes from food delivery business, the ones you are the most aware of.

The not so straightforward Market Landscape

Food and restaurant Services is a competitive market in India comprising food delivery players like Zomato and Swiggy, cloud kitchens like Rebel Foods and branded Food Services players such as Dominos, McDonalds and Pizza Hut which. Food delivery players also compete with multiple other participants in the Food Services industry including restaurants which own and operate their own delivery fleets and both online and offline modes where restaurants place their advertisements to attract customers.

The food and restaurant industry in India is composed of three segments: delivery, take-away and dine in. Out of the three, the food delivery business is expected to grow most rapidly. While this was true even before the pandemic, the post pandemic has further cemented this.

 

Source: Zomato’s DRHP

During first half of 2020, the food delivery business contracted as India braced itself for the COVID lockdowns. However, once the lockdowns and the initial hysteria was over, a boost of business came to the food delivery business, not to the dine in or the drive way streams. This clearly is good for Zomato.

But things are not as straightforward for Zomato. This is because of how the food delivery business inherently is structured. Food delivery is more of ‘now pamper me’ kind of business and not ‘I don’t care what it is as long as it gets my thing done’ kind of business. Services such as Netflix or Zomato come in the former while services like Uber or Paytm which offer more of a commodity sort of service, come in the later.

One doesn’t really care who gets you from one place to the other or what app you used to pay someone, but one strongly cares what shows or movies a certain platform offers or which restaurant offers its dishes on which platform.

Source: Zomato’s DRHP

Zomato’s Financials

Let’s pore over the unit economics first. The number of orders placed on Zomato is largely driven by its customer base, restaurant partners and delivery partners. The number of orders is also subject to seasonal fluctuations and tend to be generally higher when customers may be less likely to dine-out as a result of unfavourable weather or during certain festival seasons and holidays when customers are more likely to order food for delivery.

Source: Zomato’s DRHP

The Average Order Value for Zomato has gone up over the last 7 quarters and stands at INR 407. The AOVs are higher for orders from premium restaurants. The orders have grown from 30.6 Million for 2018 to 403.1 Million for 2020. That’s a colossal 1200% jump in merely 2 years of time.

Source: Zomato’s DRHP

The change of heart and mind with increasing Unit Economics

Moving on to the unit economics of Zomato and we are welcomed by greener pastures: while last year Zomato lost INR 30.5 on every order made, this year Zomato managed to make a profit of INR 22.9 on each order. This has been achieved mostly on the back of.

  • increasing restaurant commission charges (remember the story for some other time 😉)
  • increasing delivery charges from the customer (sadly)
  • and cutting costs on deliveries and discounts (I swear I felt the last one pinch).

All this tight cost cutting and pressurising the restaurants for more commissions has led to this rather phenomenal turnaround.

And like most things in life, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is; many think such commission structure is rather unsustainable and Zomato won’t be able to sustain this for long. Whether or not Zomato manages to sustain this or not, the IPO, pre-IPO funding and special stake sale from Naukri.com is bound to flush Zomato with tons and tons and tons of sweet cash.

Source: Zomato’s DRHP

All this positive unit economics (whether or not sustainable) is yet to impact its bottom line (which continues to dive deep in red), Zomato seems to be right at the verge of hitting profitability. While the market is in no way saturated, as more and more people start making digital payments, internet becomes cheaper and smart phones penetrate the society even more, online food ordering is bound to keep increasing.

The increasing Turnaround of Customer Cohort

As the number of customers to acquire rises, it would prove to be a challenge to monetise each customer so well that each order’s unit economics turns in the green. Acquiring customers takes cash, and that too loads of it. What matters is whether or not Zomato manages to make money from its customers, which gets us to our next metric: Customer Cohorts.

Source: Zomato’s DRHP

Acquiring customers comes with a cost and that cost needs to be redeemed from each customer. This directly implies that the customer must spend on the platform, more than what the platform spent on acquiring him. The above chart shows that once the customer is acquired, he continues to stick to the platform. The bunch (cohort) of customers acquired in 2017 now spend 3X of what they did in 2017. This is pretty impressive given a lot of customers must also have churned.

So, with the unit economics turning positive, the question that still lingers is, why does Zomato still operate in loss?

For that we switch over to the financial statements.

Source: Zomato’s DRHP

Well, there are two ways to explain the huge losses. Firstly, the huge amounts of cash spent to acquire customers and the time lag between CAC and LTV of each customer. Customers take some time to monetise once acquired. The costs have already been paid, even before the customer start generating any revenue. All those acquisition costs get added up as we see in Other Expenses line item.

 

These Other Expenses are not really “Other”, they are the marketing spends and all the discounts that Zomato offers on its platform. This line item accounts for most of the customer acquisition spends.

The other major source of expense is the Employee Expenses. Well, maybe because Zomato pays its peeps well, who knows…

All of this requires cash, which Zomato happens to have truckloads of. The latest pre-IPO round got Zomato over $680 Mn. If the IPO goes as planned, Zomato may end up with $1.00 – 1.14 Bn more. A war chest of $1.7 Bn!

The shares of the company are going to be listed on National Stock Exchange of India. We expect that the shares will be listed at prices upwards of INR 60 per share. Previously the shares of the company were converted at a price of INR 58 per share.

Zomato plans to use most of its IPO crop in organic as well as inorganic expansion, offering discounts (yayy!), sales promotions, cementing its delivery network and thus acquiring more and more of both customer and restaurants.

That’s what $2 Bn is capable of. I would not want my competitors to have a $2 Bn advantage over me.

Which gets me to Zomato’s rivals…

Peer Group Analysis

The pre-IPO funding round in February 2021 valued the company at $5.40 Bn. Within the expected price range the IPO would value the company at $6.50 – $7.00 Bn. Taking EV/Revenue multiple into account and weighted average calculation of the comparable companies, we arrive at an NTM multiple of 8.76x which gives us an intrinsic valuation of 2.07Bn.

The Indian Food Delivery space is Duopoly: Zomato and Swiggy. Under the shiny apps, things twist and turn very differently.

For starters, the business approach of Swiggy is vastly different from Zomato. While Zomato wishes to service the entire restaurant supply chain, right from raw materials, to getting it delivered to your home, Swiggy assumes a different role.

Swiggy sees itself purely as a delivery aggregator. A delivery aggregator, that will deliver groceries, books, meat, alcohol, medicine, pretty much anything that fits into that Swiggy rider’s bag. Food fits, so it delivers.

This is important. Viewing from this angle, Swiggy becomes a delivery player, mimicking Delhivery in its business approach than Zomato! 

Food just happens to be what shot Swiggy to fame. Swiggy runs not a restaurant service business, but “I’ll find someone to deliver your stuff” business – a low cost, low capex, low overhead last mile delivery business, something which most players struggle to deal with.

Be reminded though, most of Swiggy’s revenue still stems from food. The IPO for Zomato is a big deal for Zomato, but an even bigger deal for Swiggy, which will force it to act. Acted Swiggy already has, raising a new funding round, but that’s no match for the $1 billion Zomato IPO. The IPO sets the scene for not just Zomato but Swiggy as well. A bombed IPO may as well hurt Swiggy’s IPO prospects.

There’s also a new kid in town, Amazon Food. Amazon Food, is like that rich kid whose mere presence threatens Swiggy and Zomato’s dominance. Things seem quite for now. Amazon only operates in Bengaluru, offers very low delivery fees and no packaging fees; and if you happen to be a prime member, you don’t pay that even.

And I get it. Maybe Amazon is not so much of a threat that I call it to be, but my fears are based on two reasons: firstly, Amazon. Yes. That’s it. Second, just as the dust from the numerous players undercutting each other settled, a new player enters the scene. Now it isn’t as if Indian market can’t accommodate these new entrants. The market’s expanding. But what all previous tech businesses have taught is, whoever lands first gets the bucks. Amazon with its existing, robust delivery network can very easily undercut its peers offering cheaper delivery and deeper discounts, as it seemingly has already started.

Will the IPO deliver in the same way Zomato does?

Zomato’s IPO is one the most awaited IPOs. The listing has come at a time when the Indian economy is going through crisis. However, being true to its foodtech giant status, the company has used tech extensively in operations, sales, marketing and automation, which has excellent operational leverage in the longer term, and tech company values tend to get a fillip.

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This article has been co-authored by Khubaib Abdullah and Ayush Dugar, who are in the Research and Insights team of Torre Capital.

 

The Fault in our Doge

by Sandeep Kumar

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– And why it won’t go to the stars; or the moon; or practically anywhere for its sake

Among the deluge of cryptocurrencies popping up every day, Dogecoin has had the most gala ride in the past few months. The cryptocurrency, which features the ‘Shiba Inus’ dog as its mascot, gained its market cap from $1 Bn in early January to $80 Bn in May. January and May, of the same year! That is insane!

So a basic primer first for all those who don’t know what Dogecoin is.

Dogecoin: Something that started as just a meme.

Dogecoin is basically like Bitcoin (it actually is a fork of Litecoin, which is heavily adopted from Bitcoin) and like most cryptocurrencies, it enables peer-to-peer transactions on a decentralized network. The difference between the two? Bitcoin was a revolutionary technology, the original proof of work concept, based on a blockchain. Many called it the ‘disruptor of the internet’, some considered it a challenge to the global financial system, yet others considered it to be a shift of power from evil global forces to the next-door Joe and6 Jane. Bitcoin was the money of the future.

Dogecoin is just dogecoin, a digital coin, with the picture of a dog on it!

The Dogecoin has been around for much much longer than most think. It was started in 2013 by two engineers, Billy Markus from IBM and Jackson Palmer from Adobe. In their meeting they decided to combine the two phenomena that had taken the world by storm: Bitcoin and Doge, and out came the Dogecoin. Because this is what the guys do when they meet, they build random, open-source, meme-based, cryptocurrency.

The Initial Claim to Fame

The idea was to make an alternative to Bitcoin due to the massive profiteers that had gotten into mining it. Bitcoin, launched in 2008, had failed to achieve what it set out to venture. Dogecoin was expected to change that.

How?

Well, Bitcoin was limited in number, only around 21 million of those can be mined ever. Dogecoin, on the other hand, 10,000 of them can be mined every minute.

The Dogecoin was a hit amongst the crypto geeks. It was mostly used to tip online content creators due to the high speed of transactions, nominal denominations, and low cost of transaction compared to other cryptos like Bitcoin. It was dubbed as a ‘tipcoin’. It is claimed that the trading volume even surpassed the heavyweight Bitcoin for a brief period. In 2017, it crossed the $2 Bn market cap figure, after raising 50,000, USD for a Jamaican bobsled team, raising 30,000, USD for clean water in Kenya, and sponsoring a Nascar. All of this before crashing.

The Dogecoin went unnoticed for years, the original subreddit that had catapulted it to fame silenced, the founders of the coin left, and the code wasn’t even updated.

It was in March 2020 when the Doge had its moment. Serial entrepreneur and influencer Elon Musk threw his support behind Dogecoin and the community, claiming it was ‘inevitable’ and could be ‘the currency at Mars’. He was joined by several others such as Carole Baskin, a big cat rights activist, singer Gene Simmons, bodybuilder Kai Greene, former adult star Mia Khalifa, American rap star Snoop Dogg, etc.

Even with all the love and support that Dogecoin has been getting, let us walk you through the potential faults that hinder its acceptance as a currency of any form.

Founder’s Exit

The Dogecoin is a meme coin, not meant to be taken seriously. Even its founders didn’t. So much so that they abandoned the project long ago. Today merely three part-time developers manage the codebase. This has led to absolutely no tech development taking place in the Dogecoin code base since 2015.

While some view this in the ‘do not take it seriously’ vein, a poorly maintained codebase makes the Dogecoin susceptible to be dislodged by more up-to-date and modern coins. The Dogecoin may be left behind and simply replaced by some other memecoin that catches people’s fancy.

Cyber Attacks, Security Breaches, and Frauds

Due to very little codebase maintenance, Dogecoin has been hacked previously. The Doge Vault was infiltrated and close to 280 million Dogecoin, worth $55k then ($196 Mn today) were stolen along with the credit card information of hundreds of users. While the community almost immediately pooled resources to recover the stolen Doge under the banner, the official statement read this:

“It is believed the attacker gained access to the node on which Doge Vault’s virtual machines were stored, providing them with full access to our systems. It is likely our database was also exposed containing user account information; passwords were stored using a strong one-way hashing algorithm. All private keys for addresses are presumed compromised; please do not transfer any funds to Doge Vault addresses.

If you like to use Dogecoin, you should change your online account passwords and make sure to check your credit card statements frequently for fraudulent or unauthorized purchases. But let’s be serious here; we kind of hope you aren’t investing serious capital into this pseudo-currency. (emphasis added)

That is the official statement.

In 2014 a crypto exchange called Moolah was set up in the UK to handle Dogecoin by Alex Green. Many new doge holders jumped the wagon, while Green continued using the ‘tipcoin’ to make hefty tips. He even sold shares of the exchange as Dogecoins. It wasn’t long before Moolah was shut down, and Green disappeared with the money, who was later found to be Ryan Kennedy, a serial scammer, and rapist.

And not just dogecoin, but even with other cryptocurrencies, several unregulated exchanges spring up one day and take off the next, leaving investors high and dry.

Pump and Dump

Cryptocurrencies aren’t really of any use except mindless trading. The volumes are meager and regulators are absent. This makes them a ripe target for pump and dumps by pumping rings which have existed since the very inception of cryptos.

When the Reddit user /r/wallstreetbets successfully managed to pump the Gamestop stock, the crypto pump rings saw this as the moment that they had been waiting for for years. They saw a gullible audience, that didn’t really know what it was doing, to follow them thinking that they would make a blow against the big guys and have fun doing so.

Needless to say, most stories ended on a bitter note, with several of these gullible traders buying at the peaks when the pump rings sold.

This is what took place on January 28, when a Reddit user decided Dogecoin be the next asset to pump. He was joined by Elon Musk, an obsessive Twitter user. The price of the Dogecoin rocketed up and crashed the next day.

Not just the Dogecoin, but several other cryptocurrencies, all are susceptible to such hostile market manipulation.

Too Volatile to be a global currency

All cryptocurrencies have seen massive volatility. In the image below, bitcoin and ETH are found to be more volatile than the S&P 500 itself. Even as the S&P volatility dies down, the crypto volatility keeps rising.

These are not the characteristics of a stable, fiat currency. What is expected of the currency is to hold its purchasing power stable even over long periods of time, not jump up or down 10% by the time one goes from home to the grocery store.

Poor Hedge Against Inflation

As 0% interest rates or even negative interest rates seem a possibility, bitcoin, among others, is touted as a hedge against inflation. Limited supply cryptos like Bitcoin are positioned as a hedge against this inflationary scenario. Why? Because of its 21 million limits, Bitcoin’s demand vs supply is expected to cause an increase in price as supply decreases.

Even the short history of Bitcoin is not enough to cement its position as a hedge against inflation. Gold on the other hand has had millennia of history of tracking inflation and yet it was susceptible to shocks, manias, and crashes over the shorter term. Bitcoin is no different.

Even in the recent weeks as concerns of inflation pushed the 10 year US treasury yield from 1.34% to 1.62%, bitcoin suffered its worst drop in months. Unlike other inflation hedges, cryptocurrencies’ value is based entirely on other people’s willingness to hold on to it, not on some underlying asset like oil or real estate.

It is fully possible that increasing inflation may lead to an overall recession. The real test of cryptocurrencies will be when investors pull their money from riskier assets like bitcoin or pour more into it.

The infinite supply of Dogecoins

While a few cryptocurrencies do have at least the “limited number” argument in their favor, Dogecoin does not even have that. 10,000 dogecoins can be printed every minute. This rather infinite supply of the dogecoin makes it very hard for it to gain in value.

However, in spite of this structural anomaly in Dogecoin, the prices have soared considerably over the past months.

 

So much for being Decentralised

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the largest holder of Dogecoin owns 28% of the currency! The position is worth at least $2.5 Bn today! The top 10 largest addresses combined hold 43% of the total Dogecoin supply. The idea behind Dogecoin being decentralized simply bites the dust when just 10 wallet holders own 43% of the currency. One major sell-off and the prices crash.

Will the party continue for Dogecoin?

Bears believe that the bubble could burst anytime soon. A game that has a definitive end in the near future. On the other hand, some enthusiasts feel the recent crash is just a minor setback. They still think that it has the potential to grow further in the future.

Can Dogecoin place itself as a reliable money system not limited to any particular state and government? Or will the influencers of crypto just have fun with it for a while and then forget about it for another eternity? Or will Dogecoin ever reach the $1 mark? Probably, Probably Not!

So the final question – whether to invest in this joke or not? Well, be clear about your investment goals first. It’s always a good idea to have a diverse set of investments for your portfolio which are harmless to your risk appetite. So ask yourself this – why do you want to invest in Dogecoin? To make instant money or a fortune that you see forthcoming?

Or maybe launch a crypto coin of your own. That is the sure-shot way to make some quick bucks.

                                                                   – – – – –

This article has been co-authored by Khubaib Abdullah and Yogesh Lakhotia, who are in the Research and Insights team of Torre Capital. 

Electric Mobility: Why the pandemic won’t hurt the resilient EV demand in the global markets?

by Sandeep Kumar

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The nascent concept of Electric Mobility 

Electric mobility, or E-Mobility increasingly accounts for a large share of the global automotive industry and is changing the way the end-user comprehends mobility as a concept. Electric mobility, according to the definition of the German government and the National Development Plan for Electric Mobility (NEP) comprises all street vehicles that are powered by an electric motor and primarily get their energy from the power grid.

Drivers for adoption of this industry:

  • Minimized the use of traditional fuel
  • Reduced cost of high-capacity batteries
  • Shift in consumer preference towards EVs

Accessible market and impact of its growth

In 2019, electric mobility seemed poised to reach a tipping point. With more than two million electric vehicles (EVs) sold around the world, electric cars accounted for a record 2.5% of the global light-vehicle (LV) market. There were 10 million electric cars on the world’s roads at the end of 2020, following a decade of rapid growth. The global pandemic did cause a severe economic slowdown in the automobile industry. However, The EV market is much more likely to see a faster recovery and strong growth. EV charging infrastructure has also followed suit, last year it hit one of the biggest milestones by crossing the 1 million mark worldwide. Most of the new infrastructure has been built in China and Europe.  North America, with far less robust public subsidy and support, remains a distant third in the charging race.

 

Source: Bloomberg

New routes opening

Capital is the fuel for innovation and growth and the technological advance in the mobility tech has been able to attract it in abundance. Since 2010, venture investors have invested $148.4 Bn into mobility technology, with $44.7 Bn invested across 426 deals in 2018.This helped the capex heavy mobility businesses like Uber and Lyft in bringing innovations, and revolutionizing and disrupting the commercial transportation sector. Recent trends suggest that autonomous vehicles will be the next phase of disruptive mobility technology, with startups including Zoox and TuSimple poised to usher in a new era.

 

  • Regulatory policy: Governments have increased consumer incentives for EV purchases, often as part of stimulus. In Germany, for example, purchase-price subsidies for new EVs can amount to more than $10,000 per vehicle. In China, the purchase-price subsidy currently ranges from 16,200 to 22,500 RMB (approximately $2,350 to $3,265) by car.
  • Infrastructure Investment: In addition to subsidies and incentives, several governments and PE/VC firms have invested huge amounts in infrastructure and technology development projects.
  • Paradigm shift: In many countries the demand for EVs remained fairly stable during pandemic. EV manufacturers that offer online sales have seen particularly high demand since lockdown and social distancing measures kept people at home.

Miniscule presence of Electric Vehicles in India

Electric mobility was introduced in India in 2011 and over the last decade has been able to carve a space for itself in the mobility market, inevitably increasing its relevance in the lives of Indians. India is the fourth largest car market in the world and has the potential to become one of the top three in the near future – with about 400 million customers in need of mobility solutions by the year 2030.

Despite everything, EV industry in India is far behind, with less than 1% of the total vehicle sales. Currently, Indian roads are dominated by conventional vehicles and have approximately 0.4 million electric two-wheelers and a few thousand electric cars only.

 

The opportunities for Electric Mobility in the Indian Markets

Indian market has always prioritized mileage and upfront cost over all other factors. As a consequence, EVs were initially relegated to a very niche segment of the population. Another factor that contributed to this was lack of charging infrastructure.

However, recent technological development has attracted a plethora of entrepreneurs, ranging from budding start-ups to decades-old conglomerates. In addition to thisthey’re also creating new business opportunities for digital technologies like charging location finders and reservation applications, only on payments and ride-sharing services.

Ather Energy, a Bengaluru-based EV startup, develops and manufactures its own e-scooters, offers charging infrastructure through its Ather Grid, provides consumer services that include cloud software upgrades and new ownership models like subscription and leasing which are bound to attract customers. Backed by prominent names like Government of India’s Technology Development Board, Tiger Global Management and Hero Motocorp the company has attracted $166 Mn in funding.

Yulu,technology-driven startup, is solving the matter of first and last-mile connectivity. Yulu Miracle is a smart, dockless e-bike which is meant for urban traffic conditions. Yulu has collaborated with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to supply their services in and around metro stations in Delhi. Mumbai Metro Region Development Authority has also signed an MoU with Yulu to supply e-bikes to Metro commuters at various metro stations within the city. The company is still in a nascent state and has managed to garner $54 Mn in venture funding from investors like Bajaj Auto, Binny Bansal and 3one4 Capital.

DOT, a Gurugram based EV logistics startup, supplies Electronic vehicles to major e-commerce and food-tech players like Walmart, Amazon, Grofers, Blue Dart, DHL, Lenskart, Swiggy and McDonald’s.

How the virus infected the industry?

The pandemic brought the fourth largest market to a screeching halt as operations were suspended due to government guidelines. China is one of the largest suppliers of EV components. Due to lockdown supply chains have been disrupted leaving a negative short-term impact delaying the adoption.

Another key risk is the falling crude oil prices. As social distancing norms and lockdown has forced people indoors the demand for crude oil has plunged. But this concern is much more valid in the shorter run.Oil prices in India are on a rise contrary to global prices which translates to higher running cost for traditional vehicles. In a price sensitive market like India this will encourage the shift towards Electronic Vehicles.

Significance and opportunities in an emerging market

A move to e-mobility can facilitate governments to go with international emissions targets (e.g., the Paris Climate Agreement). E-mobility can cut back the general energy needed by electrical vehicles and inside the transportation sector normally.

Benefits: Electrical vehicle makers (particularly in automotive) are always in the hunt to remain one step ahead than another. This often significantly results in immense numbers of innovations like improved energy potency, higher performance levels, and lighter vehicles, etc. To continue its widespread growth, the electrified vehicle should overcome vital challenges like battery autonomy, recharging networks, and its worth.

Challenges: Batteries area unit is one of the key challenges in automobile electrification. The problem lies within the raw materials from which the batteries area unit is made: carbon, lithium, and cobalt. Regions like Europe lack their sources of those minerals which is additionally dominated by China. Another challenge being the limited recharge points

Regulatory tailwinds to bring down cost and convenience hurdles

Considering the rise in congestion and the compelling need to reduce emissions, the governments have taken some decisive actions to encourage electric vehicles adoption. Countries like Germany and France have announced their plans to elevate the subsidies for electric vehicles. In an effort to boost electric mobility, the Chinese government has extended subsidies for electric vehicles until 2022 and created exemptions from purchase taxes.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology aims to augment the top line of electric vehicle sales, and has set a target for EVs to represent 25% of new vehicle sales by 2025. Tesla, BYD, NIO and Xpeng are amongst the major players in the EV market in China.

Many states in India are racing ahead through policy groundwork. Initiatives and campaigns like National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020, Scheme for Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid and) electric vehicles in India (FAME India), as well as [email protected] campaign are boosting the adoption of EVs.

Is the market open to adopting EV?

Yes, people are willing to make the sensible switch to EVs, provided there is a required infrastructure in place, policies that govern and support research development, charging infrastructure and skill development initiatives need to be undertaken. The provision of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives is often made, so as to increase the viability of EVs in the long run.These favorable policies are already having an impact on purchasing behavior and leading to more electric vehicle sales. Total electric vehicle registrations in Europe rose 127% YoY in July. Market forecast assumes electric vehicles achieve cost parity with gas-powered vehicles in 2025.

Does the performance justify cost?

Electric scooters are evidently more costly than their petrol counterparts and affordability comes at the price of shorter range, slower speed and inadequate service. However, an electric scooter will offer the same mileage as a petrol scooter at 15% of the cost of one liter of fuel, making it very pocket-friendly over the long-term. Relevance depends on the usage, they are a good option for short daily use, but they make little sense for long-distance rides with a limited number of charging stations.

The long-term route to Electric Mobility

Will the Electric Mobility market see continued growth worldwide? In addition to evaluating short-term changes, we should also understand long-term trends for EVs. Will regional differences continue to persist? If the current tailwinds for EVs in China and Europe continue, electric mobility could emerge from the COVID-19 crisis in an even stronger position than what was estimated pre-covid. In fact, regulations and incentives will likely propel EV market share in China to roughly 35 – 50 % and in Europe to 35% – 45%.

– – – – – 

This article has been co-authored by Ayush Dugar and Yogesh Lakhotiawho is in the Resarch and Insight team at Torre Capital.

 

UiPath: On the Path to a Blockbuster IPO?

by Sandeep Kumar

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UiPath is a pioneer of the Robotic Process Automation industry. The company filed its first S-1/A this week, setting an initial price range for its shares. Shares are going to be listed in the price range of $52 — $54 bringing the valuation to $26.90 Bn — $27.90 Bn. It is all set to launch the IPO under the ticker ‘PATH’ on the New York Stock Exchange.

Incorporated in 2015 and headquartered in New York, UiPath develops computerized workflows to build, manage, measure, and engage with processes. Customers benefit from the platform’s innovative capabilities by eliminating work spent on time-consuming, repetitive, and tedious tasks.

The company’s products have become increasingly attractive for companies looking to boost productivity. This is especially true amid the global pandemic that has enforced technology and automation adoptions. The demand is much higher than initially expected. This has been driving the demand for IPO and the investors are bullish on the ‘PATH’ stock.

Company Snapshot 

  • Annualised Renewal Rate (ARR): $580 Mn
  • Annualised Renewal Rate growth Yoy: 65%
  • Total Customers: 7,968
  • Customers ≥ $100k
  • ARR: 1002
  • Dollar based net retention rate: 145%
  • Net Loss: $92 Mn

So how does UiPath make money?

Product Offering: The end-to-end platform provides a whole range of robotic process automation via a suite of interrelated software offerings. The flagship product offering, the UiPath Studio is an easy to use, drag-and-drop development platform designed for RPA developers engineering complex process automation. Other offerings include the UiPath Robot which emulates human behavior to execute the processes built-in Studio and the UiPath Orchestrator that tracks and logs Robot activity.

Market Model: UiPath has an efficient go-to-market model, which consists primarily of an enterprise field sales force supplemented by a high velocity inside sales team focused on small and mid-sized customers, as well as a global strategic sales team focused on the largest global customers.

Revenue Model: UiPath generates revenue from the sale of licenses for its proprietary software, its maintenance and support, and professional services. The license fees are based primarily on the number of users who access the software and the number of automation running on their platform. The license agreements have annual terms, and/or multi-year terms. Additionally, UiPath provides maintenance and support for its software as well as non-recurring professional services such as training and implementation services.

 

 

License (57% of revenue): UiPath’s primary business model is selling licenses through annual and multi-year subscription contracts. Being 57% of its business it shows a vibrant business model and the right product mix which is well received by the market.

Maintenance and Support (38% of revenue): The relatively large amount of maintenance and support revenue suggests that the customer base is being retained.

Services (<5% of revenue): A small part of its business is customer education and technical services likely around their UiPath academy.

UiPath’s Road to Dominance

UiPath is at the forefront of technology innovation and thought leadership in automation.

Companies such as UiPath have two ways to grow: either blasting through the market and acquiring more and more customers or be more docile and focus more on retention than expansion. UiPath chose the former. The company expanded internationally very early on, acquiring more and more customers from different nations. The growth was absolutely out of control.

Surprisingly, this does not mean that UiPath compromised on customer retention, the killer of all SaaS companies. UiPath managed to find the middle ground between blatant expansion and customer retention. The S-1 reveals an extremely high 96% “gross retention rate” and a dollar-based net retention rate of 145%. So, this says UiPath’s existing customers are spending more with the company and also sticking with it.

The Robotic Process Automation Landscape

According to an estimate by Bain & Company the size of the market for automation software will grow to approximately $65 Bn.

The market for automation is super-hot right now with the COVID pandemic making automation a dire necessity. UiPath is the clear market leader in this category. The S-1 puts their Total Addressable Market (TAM) at $60 Bn. Pre pandemic this figure stood at $30 Bn. Double the market size, in just under a year. That’s some serious growth.

It is clear that UiPath wishes to tap into the red-hot IPO market and rightly so. It needs to pad its balance sheet with as much cash as it can muster for the massive opportunity and the competitor risk it faces ranging from its peers such as Automation Anywhere to the giants like Microsoft. The principal purposes of this offering are to increase its capitalization and financial flexibility.

This is data from the Brookings Institution and the Organization for Economic Co-Development that depicts productivity statistics for the U.S. The smaller charts on the right are for Germany and Japan.

                                  Source: Brookings Institution and the Organization for Economic Co-Development 

The US showed productivity growth in ’95-’04, but that slacked off later. Similar is the case with Germany and Japan where the productivity levels have been falling continuously.

Humans are slowly reaching the very limit of what they can do alone to solve the most pressing challenges around the globe. Automation is what can free up labor and divert human intelligence and creativity into more engaging and worthwhile problems. The market is ready for automation and the post-pandemic world will witness never seen before levels of automation. 

Key Industry Risks

  • Barriers to Entry: Robotic process automation is very difficult to implement and therefore many organizations will not able to implement it thereby affecting the industry growth.
  • Sustainability: Any automation, no matter how advanced is not capable of perfectly emulating human behavior.
  • Affordability: The entire automation process is a costly proposition and affordability is an issue.

Key Company Risks

  • Growth Opportunity: The revenue growth rate of above 80% YoY may not be sustainable in the future due to the maturation of the business, increased competition, and changes to technology.
  • Limitations to Scalability: While the UiPath platform is intuitive and beginner-friendly, intra-organizational scalability poses an issue. Also, many features offered by UiPath are offered for free by other productivity platforms.
  • Pitfalls of Constant Innovation: Automation and Productivity Software is a fast-changing landscape. UiPath will need to disrupt itself to stay relevant.

Financial Highlights

Revenue: Total Revenue of $336 Mn in 2020 grew to $607 Mn in 2021, a YoY growth of more than 80%. Most of the increase was fuelled by the maintenance fees and other incomes. A 71% increase in license fees indicates a very fast-growing customer base.

UiPath has gone from making $169 Mn in the last quarter of FY 2019 to $580 Mn in the last quarter of FY 2021.

Gross-profit Margin: The gross profit margin stands at 90% and has increased from 72% in 2019 to 90% in 2021. This comes on the back of reduced travel costs due to the COVID pandemic and rapid international expansion which generated 66% and 61% of the revenue in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Net-profit Margin: The Net Loss has also been improving over time, in spite of the break neck speed that UiPath seems to be growing at. This is explained by the Operating Expenses Line Item where all the three viz. licensing costs, maintenance costs, and other costs should have gone up, keeping in line with the revenue growth. On the contrary, all the three went down, while as the revenues shot up.

Cash Flow: Unlike a lot of other growth startups going public, UiPath has a positive free cash flow, saving cash on the operational front. This is rare for a rapidly growing company. Other growth stage companies to go public such as Snowflake and CrowdStrike had negative free cash flows. Quite a few haven’t made money, even months after listing.

This may pose a concern for investors who view UiPath to be a rapidly growing, disruptive startup. Generating cash may be interpreted as a sign of UiPath transitioning into its mature stage.

Alternatively, the plan may be, to slow down the growth, settle down, consolidate the customer base and the product offering, and then continue explosive growth. Daniel Dines, the founder of UiPath has been an unconventional CEO on many fronts, this may as well be a part of the bigger picture.

Other Interesting Tid-bits

Annualized Renewal Rate (ARR) is the key metric UiPath uses to gauge its business. It illustrates the ability to acquire new subscription customers and to maintaining the existing subscription customers. The ARR may fluctuate as a result of a number of factors, including customers’ satisfaction, pricing, competitive offerings, economic conditions, or overall changes in customers’ spending levels.

 

UiPath’s “ARR” rose by 65% over the last year, indicating a massive jump in the number of new consumers using UiPath. This again highlights UiPath’s ‘expanding, yet retaining’ value proposition.

  • Number of Customers: 6,300
  • Number of Enterprise Customers: 1,500. As of January 31, 2021, UiPath had 7,968 customers, including 80% of the Fortune 10 and 63% of the Fortune Global 500.
  • Number of Developers on the UiPath platform: 200,000
  • Number of People enrolled in UiPath Courses: 100,000

Is UiPath prepared to handle the competition?

The platform addresses the market for Intelligent Process Automation, which International Data Corporation, estimated would have a value of $17 billion by the end of 2020 and is expected to grow at a four-year compound annual growth rate of approximately 16% to $30 billion by the end of 2024. According to an estimate by Bain & Company the size of the market for automation software will grow to approximately $65 billion.

 

UiPath is a market leader in the Automation industry commanding a whopping 44% of the entire market.

Nearly every company’s a winner that gets to feature in the RPA Magic Quadrant from Gartner, and even just getting on the chart is a win for some companies. UiPath ranks very high, at the very top right of the matrix, strongly positioned as an industry leader as well as a visionary, with only Automation Anywhere coming close.

 

Source: Gartner’s RPA Magic Quadrant

The UiPath IPO will be a decisive moment for not just UiPath itself, but also Automation Anywhere. A tie-breaker between the two, the UiPath IPO will either force Automation Anywhere to respond with an IPO or simply perish.

Are the Valuations on the Right Path?

The NASDAQ 100 Technology Index is up by 62%, this year alone. This coupled with the high demand for the RPA products worldwide, and you get a red-hot market for the UiPath IPO. This is likely to benefit UiPath massively but is the valuation justified or the financials go for a toss?
UiPath was valued at $35 Bn following its last financing round in February. Based on a recently released statement by the management UiPath is likely to launch IPO with shares in the price range of $52-$54 bringing the valuation in the range of $26.90 — $27.90 Bn. This brings the EV/Revenue multiple to 45.88x.

 

 

How well do the Peers Fare?

Being the market leader with a 44% market share and its colossal size relative to the peers it is difficult comparing the company to its peers. However, we have compared it to its direct competitors Automation Anywhere (Private Company) and Blue Prism (London Stock Exchange: PRSM).

Taking the Taking EV/Revenue multiple into account and weighted average calculation of the comparable companies, we arrive at an NTM multiple of 12.33x which gives us an intrinsic valuation of $8.96 Billion.

Investment Recommendation

The UiPath IPO in any case is highly anticipated, being a market leader in the red-hot Robotic Process Automation market. The company has a strong reputation and a substantial client base. Despite that, it was a bit of shock that the IPO price range failed to reach the valuation company garnered in private funding. This might be caused by the general cooling of IPOs over the past few months.

Going public in a dynamic market like RPA is tricky. However, UiPath has demonstrated strong performance and growth potential and this should be an extremely successful IPO only cementing its leadership position. We forecast a strong performance and growth for the share and recommend a long-term positive outlook. 

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This article has been co-authored by Khubaib Abdullah and Ayush Dugar, who are in the Research and Insights team of Torre Capital.

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