Crypto Startups Venture

Brushing Up And Trading Down

Morning Markets: Let’s talk oral care and ICO aftermath.

As public market observers watch Apple’s dipping share price and haggle over the impact of Facebook’s latest raft of bad press, there’s quite a lot going on at the startup level today. Two things are worth us spending a moment discussing. First, Quip’s new round and expanding business model. And, what’s going on with some of the wealthiest, and most famous ICOs?

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So, today’s Morning Markets is a bit of a grab bag. Let’s get into it.


Quip, a direct-to-consumer oral care brand, raised $40 million, it announced today. TechCrunch’s coverage of the round notes that the new capital is a debt-equity hybrid. The company has raised debt before.

But what is notable about Quip isn’t that it managed to raise — Crunchbase News has covered venture investments into the various dental startup niches before — but that the company is quickly going backwards in retail time to the physical world. And, it’s getting into insurance.

Per TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey, who notes that the company’s fresh round touched down after “Quip partnered with Target to sell its products, and about six months after Quip raised $10 million from Silicon Valley Bank and acquired Afora, a New York-based startup that offers an alternative to traditional dental insurance.” That’s interesting and impressive.

Perhaps even more eye-catching, Quip isn’t the first toothbrush startup that has moved into the dental insurance market. Per our own pages in August, there was Beam Dental, which started as an app-enabled Bluetooth toothbrush company and pivoted into the insurance business by using user-specific brushing data to offer lower dental insurance premiums to those with good brushing habits.”

And working with Target as a startup is neat, but not unique either; the retailer has a staggering four incubators spinning. That is precisely four more than I thought that it had.

Comparisons aside, Quip is showing that direct-to-consumer brands can do more than mail refills to your house. That seems to augur well for the sector, but I’d also say that the pace of venture investment into so-called “D2C” brands will have a reckoning in time akin to the “monthly box” movement that saw everything tied up unto a subscription parcel. The dog parcel war? Woof.

Perhaps Quip can make dental insurance less shit. I’m still pissed at how little mine covered earlier this year when I got to visit my dentist and hand over both my happiness and my money.


As the crypto markets continue to not get better, and even get worse, I’ve been masticating on the fate of ICOs. There’s various commentary to be found on the matter, often discussing what happens to ICOs that raised in crypto, and held in fiat. Those groups have seen likely their capital degrade as the larger crypto market itself has.

But has the market for their own wares fallen at the same time? It’s not good if ICO groups’ capital base is falling, but those declines could be compounded if the ICO’s own token falls as well. That would be, well, double-bad.

In the interest of understanding things, I dug through a bunch of ICOs this morning, hoping to find out some things for sharing with you. Given that we’ve covered a host of ICOs (mostly back when they were interesting, and raising nine-figure sums), I thought we could hit on some favorites, and one that has been in the news lately (whoops):

So that’s not going well.

Perhaps it would have been fairer to compare current prices to ICO prices, instead of all-time highs, but I think you can see the point. Not only are many ICO-powered tokens and token futures in the dumps, but presumably the capital that they held in crypto reserves is down as well.

You tell me how that will end.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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