Nikola is a company I haven’t heard of until a week ago or so. It is a pre-revenue, prototype-product company that according to their web site develops Hydrogen fueled and electric trucks.
The VC past
The company did a Series D funding round in September last year at a pre-money valuation of 3 bn USD which is quite remarkable for such an early stage company and they seem to have received ~500 mn USD from corporate partners CNH, Bosch and Hanwa. Although the valuation would raise some eyebrows, this would be still not considered super crazy by VC standards if they have a great team and great technology assets.
Tesla / Elon Musk
Elon Musk’s “Tesla is somehow going private” Tweet has triggered a lot of comments and discussions (good coverage on FT Alphaville).
For me the main take-away of this story is two fold:
One the one hand, listed equity markets are not the best place to raise equity capital once you are listed. It is OK to raise equity once when you IPO but after that, a company should only pay dividends and buy back stock. Part of the reason that Tesla is shorted so much is the expectation that they will need to raise equity which clearly shows the dilemma of public equity markets these days. Personally, I do think we will see more “Softbank style” large private vehicles which will specialize in providing capital to growing companies and save them the troubles of public equity markets until the company is mature enough. Unfortunately this will lead to the shift of a large part of value creation away from public markets and out of the reach of many “Normal” investors.
It feels like decades ago but actually it is only 4 years ago when 3D printing was supposed to disrupt each and everyone.
Googling around, it is quite easy to find articles like this one in Forbes from October 2013:
We are a few years away from a printed economy – an economy in which 3D printing will have a major role in manufacturing. Up to now, 3D printing has been most useful in creating prototypes. But from the automotive to the electronics and toy industries, 3D printers will increasingly produce critical parts and finished products. What are some industries 3D printing will disrupt? Here’s our list of seven.