Mark to Market (Short Academics & Long Optimism)

MIT released a study that indicated that private equity and venture capital marks tend to increase as the public equity market increases. Shockingly, the marks don't decrease, correspondingly, when the equity market decreases. Choice quote, "'We make no claim that this behavior is intentional...[i]t is quite plausible that private equity managers subconsciously produce positively biased valuations merely because they are optimistic.'" Riiiiight. Color us cynical, but we think it's pretty hard to justify that 2-and-20 when an ETF is up 18% and your risk-adjusted return is -3.3%. But optimism. Sure. 

Letgo Powering Up with More Venture Capital Funding

We've been harping on the fact that resale apps are contributing to brick-and-mortar pain because we think that is an under-appreciated piece of the narrative. Well, this week LetGo, a New York-based startup marketplace for used good (that we've previously noted) raised a fresh round of $100mm in venture capital funding at a valuation of $1b. 

Funded E-Commerce & New Brick-And-Mortar II (TheRealReal)

We don't get this at all.TheRealReal, a company that sells authenticated high-end resale items (mostly for women) just got $50mm in funding from some private equity firm we've never heard of, Great Hill Partners. So, clearly we're just morons because this makes ZERO sense to us - particularly since the "company has pushed out the time by which it will turn profitable". Still, the numbers must be kick-a$$ to justify a $??mm valuation at $173mm in total funding. Now the company is going "clicks-to-bricks" and plans to open a brick-and-mortar store in New York and otherwise expand its physical footprint (read: popups). So who wins? Millennial women who want discounted high-end stuff (who wouldn't be caught dead in Goodwill...womp womp) and landlords looking to fill vacant space. Of which there are a lot.

Funded E-Commerce & New Brick-And-Mortar (UNTUCKit)

We don't get this at all.UNTUCKit, a company that sells shirts that you can...uh...leave untucked just got $30mm in funding from one of the most renowned venture capital firms on the planet, Kleiner Perkins. So, clearly we're just morons because this makes ZERO sense to us. The numbers must be kick-a$$ to justify a $200mm valuation. Now the company is going "clicks-to-bricks" and plans to open 15 brick-and-mortar stores. So who wins? Fratboys with cheap untucked button-downs and landlords looking to fill vacant space. Of which there are a lot. 

Busted Tech (Food Delivery)

NYC-based food delivery startup Maple announced that it has closed, transferring tech (and employees) to Deliveroo, a UK-based food delivery company. There is a ton of talk about food delivery - we're just as guilty of it as anybody - but the truth remains: in the absence of a compelling and lasting exit, the whole idea/model is still highly speculative. The company had raised $29mm in VC from investors as illustrious as Joshua Kushner's Thrive Capital - the most recent funding just two years ago at a $115mm valuation (yes, there was some venture debt in the mix as well...shocker!). Maybe Thrive should have brokered an exclusive food delivery deal to the visitors of Mar-a-Lago. Meanwhile, the failure of Maple and the recent recap of Munchery probably help explain why grocery delivery is surpassing food delivery in funding. Given the recent pain grocers have been suffering - see Marsh Supermarkets (below), Central Grocers, and Southeastern Grocers (closing 20 locations) - this would appear to be a positive sign.


  • Professionals Fees. The staggering amounts are getting increasing attention. This kind of attention on exorbitant costs can't be good for long-term viability of the industry.
  • Short junior associates. Casetext, a San Francisco-based AI-driven legal research product for lawyers raised $12mm in Series B funding.