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The Increasingly Crowded Unicorn Club

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The Increasingly Crowded Unicorn Club

The Increasingly Crowded Unicorn Club

Unicorns, a moniker applied to private startups valued at over $1 billion or more, are supposed to be mythical in nature.

At best, there are supposed to be so few of them that venture capital firms would be absolutely elated to have a stake in any unicorn out there. (Or even their Canadian narwhal equivalents)

However, the truth is that unicorns are simply not rare or mythical anymore. According to the real-time list that CB Insights hosts, the number is now at 145 unicorns globally. In other words, the once exclusive Unicorn Club is becoming increasingly crowded.

That said, the odd member of the club does find the door.

Square, a prominent member of the club led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey since mid-2011, finally IPO’d just a month ago with mixed results. It rose money from the public market at $9/share, which was a significant discount on the last private capital it raised at $15.46/share. Today it is trading closer to $12, which shows there is still optimism towards these kinds of technology companies.

Box’s IPO in January 2015 also sent mixed messages. It was privately valued at $2.4 billion, but then IPO’d at $1.7 billion. It soared on the first days of trading to $2.7 billion but then fell back down to a value below its IPO as lockups on insider traders expired during the summer.

Is the appetite for unicorns still frothy, or is it starting to sour?

We certainly agree that many of these companies have a great opportunity ahead of them. Many are growing at breakneck speed, and others are starting to find ways to monetize their offerings. However, is there really room for hundreds of them?

Today, the Australian software company Atlassian IPOs on the Nasdaq with a reported valuation of $4.4 billion. At time of publishing, it is up 33% on the day, and we will be continuing to watch the stock closely.

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Markets

The Anatomy of a Market Correction

Why do stock market corrections happen, and how often does a market correction turn into a bear market? This infographic breaks it all down.

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The Anatomy of a Market Correction

Markets are rarely a straight march forward.

Even though the end destination is usually a bullish one, markets often take a far more scenic route to get there. Sometimes that means going off the beaten path, and other times it may mean taking a step directly backwards to get reoriented.

In investing parlance, the latter situation can be described as a market correction: a short-term duration market move between -10% and -20%.

These are significant declines that can be a “gut check” for investors, especially for those who haven’t experienced many of them in their investing careers.

Breaking Down a Market Correction

Today’s infographic comes to us from Fisher Investments, and it describes the anatomy of market corrections, while also visualizing much of the data around these common events.

The average market correction looks something like this:

  • Frequency:
    On average, there is one market correction that occurs each year
  • Length:
    The average correction lasts for 71.6 days
  • Depth:
    The average correction involves a 15.6% decline
  • Impact:
    A correction often results in increases in uncertainty, volatility, and media alarmism.

In the current bull market, there have already been eight corrections. The most noteworthy of these went from May 21, 2015 until February 11, 2016 and resulted in a -18.9% fall in stock prices.

Bull or Bear?

One of the biggest challenges created by market corrections is that they are also far from straightforward.

Corrections can be over in two weeks, or it can take almost a year for a correction to eventually revert back to a bull market. To complicate matters, there is also a chance that a correction may turn into a bear market – a fundamentally-driven and sustained decline where the market dips 20% or more.

While every correction is different, data can also help paint a clearer picture: between 1980-2016 there were 36 corrections in the U.S. market, and only five of them (about 14%) resulted in longer, sustained bear markets.

The flipside of this, however, means that 86% of the time, a correction ends up just being a blip on the radar of an otherwise intact bull market.

In other words, the vast majority of corrections end up providing an opportunity for smart investors to take advantage of lower prices before a bull market continues its climb.

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How the Tech Giants Make Their Billions

Collectively, the Big Five tech giants combine for revenues of $802 billion, which is bigger than Saudi Arabia’s economy. Here’s how it breaks down.

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How the Tech Giants Make Their Billions

At a glance, it may seem like the world’s biggest technology companies have a lot in common.

For starters, all five of the Big Tech companies (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Alphabet) have emerged as some of the most valuable publicly-traded companies in the world, with founders such as Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates sitting atop the global billionaire list.

These tech giants also have a consumer-facing aspect to their business that is front and center. With billions of people using their platforms globally, these companies leverage user data to tighten their grip even more on market share. At the same time, this data is a double-edged sword, as these same companies often find themselves in the crosshairs for mishandling personal information.

Finally, all of these companies have a similar origin story: they were founded or incubated on the fertile digital grounds of the West Coast. The company that has the weakest claim to such origins would be Facebook, but even it has been based in Silicon Valley since June 2004.

Sizing Up the Tech Giants

For all of their commonalities, it seems that there is less of a mold for how these tech giants end up generating cashflow.

But before we get to how Big Tech makes its money, let’s start by looking at the financials at a higher level. The following data comes from the 2018 10-K reports filed last year.

CompanyRevenue (2018)Net Income (2018)Margin
Combined$801.5 billion$139.0 billion17.3%
Apple$265.6 billion$59.5 billion22.4%
Amazon$232.9 billion$10.1 billion4.3%
Alphabet$136.8 billion$30.7 billion22.4%
Microsoft$110.4 billion$16.6 billion15.0%
Facebook$55.8 billion$22.1 billion39.6%

Together, the Big Five tech giants combined for just over $800 billion of revenue in 2018, which would be among the world’s 20 largest countries in terms of GDP. More precisely, they would just edge out Saudi Arabia ($684 billion GDP) in terms of size.

Meanwhile, they generated a total of $139 billion of net income for their shareholders, good for a 17.3% profit margin.

How Big Tech Makes Money

Let’s dig deeper, and see the differences in how these companies generate their revenue.

You are the Customer

In the broadest sense, three of the tech giants make money in the same way: you pay them money, and they give you a product or service.

Apple (Revenue in 2018: $265.6 billion)

  • Apple generates a staggering 62.8% of its revenue from the iPhone
  • The iPad and Mac are good for 7.1% and 9.6% of revenues, respectively
  • All other products and services – including Apple TV, Apple Watch, Beats products, Apple Pay, AppleCare, etc. – combine to just 20.6% of revenues

Amazon (Revenue in 2018: $232.9 billion)

  • Amazon gets the most from its online stores (52.8%) as well as third-party seller services (18.4%)
  • Amazon’s fastest-growing segment is offline sales in physical stores
  • Offline sales generate $17.2 billion in current revenue, growing 197% year-over-year
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) is well-known for being Amazon’s most profitable segment, and it counts for 11.0% of revenue
  • Amazon’s “Other” segment is also rising fast – it mainly includes ad sales

Microsoft (Revenue in 2018: $110.4 billion)

  • Microsoft has the most diversified revenue of any of the tech giants
  • This is part of the reason it currently has the largest market capitalization ($901 billion) of the Big Five
  • Microsoft has eight different segments that generate ~5% or more of revenue
  • The biggest three are “Office products and cloud services” (25.7%), “Server products and cloud services” (23.7%), and Windows (17.7%)

The remaining tech giants charge you nothing as a consumer, so how are they worth so much?

You are the Product

Both Alphabet and Facebook also generate billions of dollars of revenue, but they make this money from advertising. Their platforms allow advertisers to target you at scale with incredible precision, which is why they dominate the online ad industry.

Here’s how their revenues break down:

Alphabet (Revenue in 2018: $136.8 billion)

  • Despite having a wider umbrella name, ad revenue (via Google, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Ads, etc.) still drives 85% of revenue for the company
  • Other Google products and services, like Google Play or the Google Pixel phone, help to generate 14.5% of total revenue
  • Other Bets count to 0.4% of revenue – these are Alphabet’s moonshot attempts to find the “next Google” for its shareholders

Facebook (Revenue in 2018: $55.8 billion)

  • Facebook generates almost all revenue (98.5%) from ads
  • Meanwhile, 1.5% comes from payments and other fees
  • Despite Facebook being a free service for users, the company generated more revenue per user than Netflix, which charges for its service
  • In 2018 Q4, for example, Facebook made $35 per user. Netflix made $30.

So while the tech giants may have many similarities, how they generate their billions can vary considerably.

Some are marketing products to you, while others are marketing you as the product.

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