Morning Markets: News out this morning indicates that a China-based company working in pet food delivery just raised a neat Series B.
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I recently re-read “F’d Companies,” a tome discussing some of the most epic dotcom-era flameouts. Despite having not aged particularly well (a young author, a different moment in time) the book is a useful reminder of how silly things can get when the markets decide that logic no longer rules.
A good thing about the current tech boom is that it is fractionally less silly. The companies that are hard-to-believe in 2019 are still driving revenue, and might even have a shot at future profits. But, one category of company that struggled back in the 2000-era crash is back and raising money. No, not neo-money-related companies (bitcoin today, Flooz then), or grocery delivery (Instacart today, Webvan then), but pet supply delivery.
According to KrAsia, the $43.4 million round of capital comes after the firm “sold more than 5 million bags of dog food last year on e-commerce platforms like Tmall, JD, and Amazon, and it plans to open 20 offline shops in 2019.”
Two thoughts, there. First, what is the margin like on selling, and shipping dog food? I presume it’s low. Dog food is heavy, often bulky, and likely price sensitive? Has delivery tech gotten so good that this is affordable? And, second, given the offline expansion, I presume the answer is a firm maybe at best.
There’s a lot of money going into tech in 2019. It might not be quite as much as in 2018, but there are still many dollars to be had. That may be why we’re seeing a company that sells dog food through other folks’ channels and platforms is raising such a large Series B. It feels bubbly. But China is populous and has a huge pet market. Perhaps that’s enough.
We’ll see, but welcome back from the holiday with a reminder that history really does rhyme.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.