A recent Wall Street Journal article detailing the current pace of the Chinese startup sector paints a picture of risk. Companies are raising huge sums incredibly quickly, pushing their valuations higher as startups lever against cash infusions to grow—often by offering profit-destroying discounts.
By contrast, it seems that the United States’ exuberance is downright mild. Yes, we had Uber against Lyft back in the day, but I’d bet a discount code that Meituan versus Didi is a more costly scrap.
Regardless, all this led the Crunchbase News team to ask the question: who is losing the most money? It’s effectively impossible to tell precisely, but we can pick out some numbers and doodle up some notes.
So, without further ado, I present to you the Crunchbase News Not Very Complete Unicorn Lose-Money-A-Thon leaders1:
- Uber: $891 million net loss last quarter (source, more on the quarter).
- Didi: $580 million in the first half of 2018 (source).
- Lyft: $373 million in H1’18 (source, more on the matter).
- Meituan (now public): $3.3 billion loss for the four-month period ending April 30, 2018 (source, more context).
- WeWork: $723 million net loss in H1’18 (source).
- Deliveroo: $243 million in 2017 (source).
Airbnb: actually makes money, it seems.
- Bitmain: $395 million in Q2’18 (source).
- Snap (public): $353 million in Q2’18 (source).
- Domo (public): $46.4 million in its FQ2’19, impressive against just $34.3 million in revenue (source).
So it seems that Meituan heading into its recent IPO, Uber, and Didi win medals for burning the most money. Bitmain, Lyft, and Snap are left to fight for fourth.
But there are more numbers that would look good if available for inclusion in our list. Recent losses from Grab, Go-Jek, and Ola would be super interesting. As would notes from Lime and Bird, the U.S.-focused scooter companies that made waves earlier this year with a furious fundraising cadence that was (presumably) plowed back into their operations.
Or how about the companies fighting the global financial system? Robinhood is making noise about going public, but I doubt it makes money. Everyone with two nickels wants to invest in Coinbase (source: every VC I talk to), but after a huge Q4 last year and the later deflation of the crypto boom, how is the firm doing?
Some companies that seem to be in good health are unprofitable, but not noisily so. No one that I know of is salivating over Slack’s burn rate or how close to IPO-ready Pinterest’s current losses are.
Of course, there are the delivery shops that aren’t ridesharing companies, like Instacart, Postmates (more here), and Doordash. Not to mention Ele.me and others. I wonder if any one of them makes money and what their collective burn rate is.
All of this is piled-up risk. What happens next isn’t clear.
Top Image Credit: Li-Anne Dias.
We’re just having fun here. We’re not comparing aligned time periods, and we’re not always stacking numbers next to one another that can be directly compared.↩
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