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Protocol Index: It’s a great time to IPO

Protocol Index: It’s a great time to IPO

Good morning! This Friday, ZoomInfo's CFO on its successful IPO, Chief's CEO on diversity amid the pandemic, and we might soon have screens made of hair. Want Index in your inbox each morning? Subscribe here.

What Matters Today

  • 5:30 a.m. PDT: May's jobs report is expected to show a 19.8% unemployment rate, the highest since the Great Depression. Though Deutsche Bank's Brett Ryan notes that "the pace of job losses is expected to slow dramatically," that will come as little comfort to the tens of millions of unemployed people.
  • JD.com will start taking orders for its secondary listing in Hong Kong today, Bloomberg reports.

Layoff Watch

  • 40% of Lastline's staff — around 50 people — will reportedly be laid off after VMware acquired the cloud security company.
  • More than 50 Revolut employees were reportedly "told to quit their jobs or be fired."
  • GM's Cruise is reportedly trying to hire engineers from the struggling Zoox.

Today's News

As of 5 a.m. PDT: Nasdaq Futures: 0.17% | Euro 600: 1.11% | Nikkei: 0.74% | Hang Seng: 1.66%

OPPORTUNITIES

THREATS

DEALS

  • Mubadala, Abu Dhabi's state investment fund, is investing $1.21 billion in Jio Platforms.
  • NetEase reportedly raised $2.7 billion in its Hong Kong secondary listing. Shares are due to start trading next Thursday.
  • Amwell has reportedly filed for an IPO, which could take place in September.
  • Slack struck a deal with Amazon, which will now use Slack for all employees. In return, Slack will use AWS's video-calling tech.

Everyone's Thinking About

Turns out it's a great time to IPO

Back in March, the idea of a successful IPO was utterly unimaginable. And yet! Yesterday ZoomInfo listed its shares, which immediately soared 90% (closing up 62%).

  • I caught up with CFO Cameron Hyzer ahead of the listing yesterday; he told me that the whole process has "been a little crazy."
  • The corporate contact database company initially filed for the IPO back in December, and when the pandemic hit it took a step back and "just watched the markets." Hyzer said he kept talking to investors, who said they were "still very interested." So once volatility levels calmed a bit, the company figured now "was as good a time as any."

It was obviously right. Demand for this has been through the roof: The IPO was reportedly more than 20x oversubscribed, and the huge pop on its trading debut is demonstrative of just how desperate investors are for something new to invest in.

  • It sets a good precedent for other tech companies. Though crisis-affected businesses like Airbnb might still struggle to list, Robinhood and Procore might now reconsider their options.
  • Despite broader market chaos, tech's proved to be fairly resilient. The Information Technology sector fell just 5.4% between February 14 and June 1, compared to a 12.3% drop for the whole market.
  • Internet software stocks actually rose a massive 23.9% over the same period, with investors flocking to both their relative safety and the hopes that they'd benefit from stay-at-home measures.

The question is whether those gains will stick around — or if the deteriorating real economy will take a bite out of tech.

  • "No matter who you are, you need healthy customers who have a budget to pay you," Firsthand Funds' Kevin Landis has said. The coming months will show if that's true.

Check out my full conversation with ZoomInfo's Hyzer, by the way: It involves emus.

Overheard

  • "Time to break up Amazon. Monopolies are wrong!" — Elon Musk got annoyed after an author said he couldn't self-publish on Amazon. (Amazon says that was due to an error which has since been fixed.)
  • "We've been talking to all of them about search and all of them have asked us detailed search questions." — DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg told Bloomberg that U.S. authorities were looking into how to reduce Google's search dominance.
  • "Mukesh Ambani's next big thing will most likely be the financial sector … With that accomplished, Reliance will look bigger than Alibaba." — Greyhound Research's Sanchit Vir Gogia thinks Reliance isn't done growing.

Interview

Diversity amid … all this

I've heard a lot of people worrying about what this crisis means for diversity in the tech industry — a concern that's only grown in recent days. For one thing, some tech companies are laying off diversity and inclusion teams, as Protocol recently reported, and layoffs are disproportionately affecting women and non-white people. Over in startup world, there's another issue concerning VC funding.

  • "People are drawing on existing relationships" to get funding right now, Chief CEO Carolyn Childers told me yesterday, "and oftentimes the women don't have as many of those direct relationships as men do with each other." The same is true for non-white people, too: As risk-averse VCs start relying increasingly on their own networks, diversity could suffer.
  • Chief is a private network for female executives, and Childers said many of its members are finding it "very hard" to fundraise right now.
  • "A lot of our members are now dealing with being the full-time caretaker at home," Childers said. That burden could "stop [women] from even going and making the ask."

Chief is trying to help support its members by providing a space for them to discuss their challenges together. With its physical clubs closed, it's pivoted to doing everything online — a format that's working really well, Childers said.

  • Digital events allow a Chief member to have "resources at her fingertips at whatever time works for her," compared to the restrictions physical events can have — a major plus for the company.

Childers said she hopes companies stand by their statements of diversity and commitment to change, especially in response to the Black Lives Matters movement.

  • "I have deep hope that it's real," she said. "I really hope that organizations hold themselves accountable to what they're saying right now."

Closing Bell

Your next screen might be made of hair

Having not cut my hair in like, four months, I am constantly shedding quite a lot of it. Turns out that might be useful: Queensland University of Technology has developed a way to use discarded hair to make OLED screens. The researchers burn the hair, producing a material embedded with carbon and nitrogen, which is then used to make carbon nanodots for screens. They're not quite bright enough for TVs, the researchers say, but could be used for smart packaging.

Thoughts/feedback/tips? Email me — shakeel@protocol.com — or anonymously contact Protocol. And subscribe to get Index in your inbox each morning. A special end of week thanks to my editors, Tim Grieve and Jamie Condliffe, and to you for reading. Have a great weekend: See you Monday.

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