Olivier Pomel, co-founder and CEO of Datadog, speaks at the company’s Dash conference in San Francisco on Aug. 3, 2023.
Albert Wang, a native Californian, moved to New York from Boston with his wife a decade ago and got a job as a product manager at Datadog, which at the time was a fledgling startup helping companies monitor their cloud servers and databases.
New York had its share of startup investors and venture-backed companies, but it wasn’t a hotbed of tech activity. The San Francisco Bay Area was the dominant tech scene. On the East Coast, Boston was better known as the hub of enterprise technology.
But Datadog grew up — fast — going public in 2019, and today it sports a market cap of over $28 billion. After four years at the company, Wang left but chose to stay in New York to launch Bearworks, providing software to sales reps. The city is totally different from the place he encountered when he arrived, and you can feel it when you’re out at a bar or restaurant, Wang said.
“Now it’s extremely diversified — there are more people doing startups,” he said. Before, “you tended to be surrounded by consultants and bankers, but more and more now, there’s tech.”
Datadog’s initial public offering was followed less than two years later by UiPath, which develops software for automating office tasks. They were both preceded by cloud database developer MongoDB in 2017 and e-commerce platform Etsy in 2015.
None of those Big Apple companies are huge by the tech industry’s standards — market caps range from $9 billion to just under $30 billion — but they’ve created an ecosystem that’s spawned many new startups and created enough wealth to turn some early employees into angel investors for the next generation of entrepreneurs.
While the tech industry is still trying to bounce back from a brutal 2022, which was the worst year for the Nasdaq since the 2008 financial crisis, New Yorkers are bullish on the city that never sleeps.
Among the 50 states, New York was second to California last year, with $29.2 billion invested in 2,048 startups, according to the National Venture Capital Association. Massachusetts was third. In 2014, prior to the run of New York City IPOs, California was the leader, followed by Massachusetts and then New York.
Annual capital deployed in New York over the past nine years has increased sevenfold, NVCA data shows. And that’s after last year’s steep industrywide slump. During the record fundraising year of 2021, New York startups received almost $50 billion across 1,935 companies.
California companies raised three times that amount, and the Bay Area has its own share of startup market momentum. Following the launch of ChatGPT in November from San Francisco’s OpenAI, the city has become a mecca for artificial intelligence development.
Investors have pumped over $60 billion into Bay Area startups so far this year, with half of the money flowing to AI companies, according to data from PitchBook.
Northern California has long been the heartbeat of the tech industry, but Murat Bicer remembers what it was like for New York startups before the rush. In 2012, his Boston-based firm, RTP Ventures, presented a term sheet for a funding round to Datadog but wanted one more investor to participate.
“We talked to so many firms,” said Bicer, who left RTP for venture firm CRV in 2015. “So many at the time passed because they didn’t think you could build an enterprise software company in New York. They said it had to be in Boston.”
That dynamic challenged Olivier Pomel, Datadog’s French co-founder and CEO, who had built up a local network after working in New York for a decade. Boston had the enterprise scene. The rest of tech was in Silicon Valley.
“VCs from the West Coast were not really investing outside the West Coast at the time,” Pomel said.
But Pomel was determined to build Datadog in New York. Eventually, Index Ventures, a firm that was founded in Europe, joined in the funding round for Datadog, giving the company the fuel to grow up in the city. Pomel relocated the company to The New York Times building off Manhattan’s Times Square.
For New York to keep the momentum, it will need to churn out a continuing string of successes. That won’t be easy. The IPO market has finally shown some signs of life over the past week after being shuttered for almost two years, but investor enthusiasm has been muted and there aren’t many obvious New York-based tech IPO candidates.
Startups proliferated in New York during the dot-com boom, but many disappeared in the 2000s. Datadog, MongoDB and cloud infrastructure provider DigitalOcean all popped up after the Great Recession. DigitalOcean went public in 2021 and now has a market cap of just over $2 billion.
Employees from those companies and even a few of their founders have formed new startups in New York. Google and Salesforce are among Big Tech employers that bolstered their presence in the city, making it easier for tech startups to find people with the right skills. And investors who for decades had prioritized the Bay Area have recently set up shop in New York.
Andreessen Horowitz, GGV Capital, Index and Lightspeed Venture Partners expanded their presence in the city in 2022. In July of this year, Silicon Valley’s most prized firm, Sequoia Capital, which was MongoDB’s largest venture investor, opened a New York office.
“Today, there’s absolutely no question in my mind that you can build fantastic businesses in New York,” said Bicer.
Eliot Horowitz, who co-founded MongoDB in 2007 and is now building a New York-based robotics software startup called Viam, shared that sentiment.
“The biggest difference between now and then is no one questions New York,” Horowitz said.
Horowitz is among a growing group of successful founders pumping some of their riches back into New York. He backed DeliverZero, a startup that allows people to order food in reusable containers that can be returned. The company is working with around 200 restaurants and some Whole Foods stores in New York, Colorado and California.
Eliot Horowitz, co-founder of Viam and formerly co-founder and chief technology officer of MongoDB, speaks at the Collision conference in Toronto on May 23, 2019.
Vaughn Ridley | Sportsfile | Getty Images
Wainer, a co-founder of DigitalOcean, invested in collaboration software startup Multiplayer alongside Bowery Capital. He’s also backed Vantage, a cloud cost-monitoring startup founded by ex-DigitalOcean employees Brooke McKim and Ben Schaechter. Vantage, with 30 employees, has hundreds of customers, including Block, Compass and PBS, Schaechter said.
Meanwhile, Wainer has moved to Florida, but he’s building his new company in New York. Along with fellow DigitalOcean co-founder Ben Uretsky, he started Welcome Homes, whose technology lets people design and order new homes online. The company has over $47 million worth of homes under construction, said Wainer, who visits Welcome’s headquarters every month or two.
Wainer said that companies like DigitalOcean, which had over 1,200 employees at the end of last year, have helped people gain skills in cloud software marketing, product management and other key areas in technology.
“The pool of talent has expanded,” he said.
That has simplified startup life for Edward Chiu, co-founder and CEO of Catalyst, whose software is designed to give companies a better read on their customers. When he ran customer success at DigitalOcean, Chiu said finding people with applicable experience wasn’t easy.
“That function, even just a decade ago, just wasn’t relevant in New York City,” Chiu said. “Nowadays, it is very easy to hire in New York City for any role, really.”
The ecosystem is rapidly maturing. When Steph Johnson, a former communications executive at DigitalOcean and MongoDB, got serious about raising money for Multiplayer, which she started with her husband, the couple called Graham Neray.
Neray had been chief of staff to MongoDB CEO Dev Ittycheria and had left the company to start data-security startup Oso in New York. Neray told the Multiplayer founders that he would connect them with 20 investors.
“He did what he said he would do,” Johnson said, referring to Neray. “He helped us so much.” Johnson said she and her husband joked about naming their startup Graham because of how helpful he’d been.
To some degree, Neray was just paying his dues. To help establish Oso, Neray had looked for help from Datadog’s Pomel. He also asked Ittycheria for a connection.
Dev Ittycheria, CEO of MongoDB
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
“I have an incredible amount of respect for Oli and what he achieved,” Neray said, referring to Pomel. “He’s incredibly strong on both the product side and the go-to-market side, which is rare. He’s in New York, and he’s in infrastructure, and I thought that’s a person I want to learn from.”
Last year, MongoDB announced a venture fund. Pomel said he and other executives at Datadog have discussed following suit and establishing an investing arm.
“We want the ecosystem in which we hire to flourish, so we invest more around New York and France,” Pomel said.
Ittycheria has had a front-row seat to New York’s startup renaissance. He told CNBC in an email that when he founded server-automation company BladeLogic in 2001, he wanted to start it in New York but had to move it to the Boston area, “because New York lacked access to deep entrepreneurial talent.”
Then came MongoDB. By the time Ittycheria was named CEO of the database company in 2014, New York “was starting to see increasing venture activity, given the access to customers, talent and capital,” Ittycheria said. The company’s IPO three years later was a milestone, he added, because it was the city’s first infrastructure software company to go public.
The IPO, he said, showed the market that people can “build and scale deep tech companies in New York — not just in Silicon Valley.”
China’s EV carmaker Nio jumps 4% after reporting narrower-than-expected losses
Nio’s ET5 stands on display at the Central China International Auto Show on May 25, 2023, in Wuhan, China.
Getty Images | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Nio on Tuesday reported narrowing losses in the third quarter, but gave a revenue forecast below market expectations.
Here’s how Nio did in the third quarter, according to LSEG consensus estimates:
- Revenue: 19.1 billion Chinese yuan ($2.7 billion) versus 19.4 billion yuan expected.
- Loss per share: 2.67 yuan per share loss versus 2.91 yuan loss expected. That was smaller than the 3.7 yuan per share loss recorded in the second quarter of the year.
Revenue rose 47% year-on-year.
Nio shares were around 4% higher in pre-market trade in the U.S., reversing earlier losses that followed the results.
Investors are focusing on the Chinese electric carmaker’s ability to be more disciplined in its spending, as it charts a path to profitability.
Nio CEO William Li reiterated the company’s focus on being more efficient.
“We have identified opportunities to optimize our organization, reduce costs and enhance efficiency,” Li said Tuesday.
Some of those efforts are already bearing fruit. Nio reported a net loss of 4.6 billion yuan in the third quarter, down 24.8% from the second quarter of 2023, but still higher than the same period of 2022.
The company also cut 10% of its workforce last month, citing “fierce competition.”
On top of that, Chinese consumers remain cautious on spending, which could weigh on Nio’s strategy to appeal to the premium segment of the local EV market.
The company said fourth-quarter revenue will be between 16.1 billion yuan and 16.7 billion yuan, representing a year-on-year increase of between 0.1% to 4.0%. Analysts expected a forecast of 22.4 billion yuan in the December quarter.
Nio also anticipates it will deliver between 47,000 and 49,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter — a hike of approximately 17.3% to 22.3% year-on-year.
Nio’s gross margin was 8% in the third quarter, down from 13.3% in the same period last year.
As Nio is yet to turn a profit since it was founded in 2014, the company is trying to show investors that it can balance the need for investments, while also being more disciplined with costs.
Li said on Tuesday that Nio would defer or terminate any projects that won’t bring a financial contribution in the coming three years. He added that the company will make sure that it doesn’t “dilute” investments in core areas like technology and its sales and service network, as it prepares “for the more intense competition in the coming two years.”
As part of this push, Nio on Tuesday announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire certain manufacturing equipment and assets from Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Corp. (JAC) for 3.16 billion yuan. JAC currently manufactures Nio cars.
Li said that bringing manufacturing entirely in house could reduce the costs of such operations by 10%, but that the company would exclude battery manufacturing from being drafted in-house, as the measure would not improve gross margin.
Nio CFO Steven Wei Feng said that the company’s vehicle margin, which was 11% in the third quarter, can rise to 15% in the fourth quarter, helped by lower material and component costs, as well as better manufacturing capacity.
In 2024, the company is targeting a vehicle margin of between 15% and 18%, the CFO said.
Reproductive startup launches test to identify an embryo’s genetic defects before an IVF pregnancy begins
Noor Siddiqui, founder and CEO of Orchid, during the web summit for careers during Day 2 of the 2014 Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland, Nov. 5, 2014.
Stephen McCarthy | Getty Images
Reproductive technology startup Orchid on Tuesday announced a comprehensive new genetic test that may help many prospective parents across the U.S. breathe a little easier.
The company is launching the first commercially available whole genome sequencing report for embryos, designed for couples undergoing in vitro fertilization, which is a type of treatment for people experiencing infertility or who are at risk of passing on genetic problems.
With IVF, after a woman has had around two weeks of daily hormone injections, her mature eggs are extracted and fertilized in a lab, and the viable embryos are later transferred into the uterus.
Orchid said its new test will help couples identify whether their embryos present genetic risks such as birth defects, neurodevelopmental disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, or pediatric and adult-onset cancers that were previously only detectable after birth.
“This is a major advance in the amount of information parents can have,” Noor Siddiqui, Orchid’s founder and CEO, told CNBC in an interview. “The way that you can use that information is really up to you, but it gives a lot more control and confidence into a process that, for all of history, has just been totally left to chance.”
Orchid’s technology sequences more than 99% of an embryo’s genome, while existing tests typically read around .25%, the company said in a release.
IVF is a taxing process that can cost an average of more than $12,000 in the U.S., according to the Institute for Reproductive Health. Success is not guaranteed, and some people go through multiple rounds of IVF before a pregnancy develops.
Orchid’s genetic test will cost couples an additional $2,500 per embryo sequenced, but it does not add any new steps or risks to the IVF process, Siddiqui said. She added that the cost of the report should come down as the company is able to scale up its operations and introduce more automation.
“We want to make this something that’s accessible to everyone,” Siddiqui said.
Beginning Tuesday, Orchid’s technology will be available at IVF clinics in major cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Austin, and Siddiqui said Orchid can be made available at additional clinics at the request of patients.
Couples will receive their report back from Orchid after about three weeks, the company said, and a board-certified genetic counselor will help them understand the results.
Orchid’s whole genome embryo report
Orchid has secured $12 million in funding from investors such as Prometheus Fund and Refactor Capital. Anne Wojcicki, the co-founder and CEO of 23andMe; Dylan Field, the co-founder and CEO of Figma; Fidji Simo, the CEO of Instacart; Brian Armstrong, the co-founder CEO of Coinbase, and others are also backers.
For many hopeful parents, the peace of mind is worth Orchid’s steep price.
Roshan George, a 35-year-old engineer in San Francisco, began the IVF process with his wife, Julie, in the fall.
George said they were feeling some anxiety about having a baby at an older age, and their nerves were amplified after their IVF clinic discovered they are both carriers for nonsyndromic hearing loss, which can result in a partial or total loss of hearing.
George had heard of Orchid through some friends, he said, and the couple decided to sequence all three of their viable embryos with the company. He said getting the embryos tested was very straightforward, and when the results came back, they discovered that two out of the three embryos were healthy.
“We were super relieved right off the bat,” George told CNBC in an interview. “That was very gratifying to hear.”
“Just having some degree of certainty — you’re going to make sure they’re not sick when they’re born and all that sort of stuff — it’s a huge amount of anxiety that’s been lifted off,” George said.
George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, is an investor and an adviser at Orchid. Church developed the first direct genome sequencing method, he said, and Orchid’s technology will give parents the ability to access a hundred times more information about their baby than they could attain previously.
Church said it is “perfectly logical” for parents to care about helping their children, whether it pertains to their genetic health, the quality of their food or whether they get enough sleep and exercise.
He added that people often think that genetic risks don’t apply to them, or that there’s nothing they can do if something is wrong. But with Orchid, Church said parents have the detailed information they need to make informed decisions.
“If you went to Las Vegas with a 97% chance of winning, you would definitely go to Las Vegas,” Church told CNBC in an interview. “But it’s different when you’re talking about quarters as opposed to children.”
Orchid’s primary focus after the launch Tuesday will be on scaling up its technology and making it more accessible, Siddiqui said.
She said Orchid has spent an “enormous amount of effort” identifying the mutations that will cause severe disease during pregnancy or early childhood or result in serious chronic conditions. She wanted to ensure the company is able to provide parents with information that is “super meaningful.”
“I think this has the potential to totally redefine reproduction,” Siddiqui said. “I just think that’s really exciting to be able to make people more confident about one of the most important decisions of their life, and to give them a little bit more control.”
Take-Two shares tumble as Rockstar Games publishes Grand Theft Auto trailer early after leak
Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take Two Interactive.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Shares of video game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software fell 4% in extended trading on Monday after the company released its trailer for the next version of the Grand Theft Auto game, which will come out in 2025. The company had originally planned to put out the trailer hours later, at 6 a.m. ET. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, but a leak caused Take Two to move up its timeline.
The video was originally leaked on X, formerly known as Twitter. After that, Rockstar Games, a subsidiary of Take-Two, published the trailer on YouTube.
Grand Theft Auto VI is likely to impact Take Two shares upon its release. Grand Theft Auto V debuted in 2013, and it’s now the second best-selling video game in history, having sold more than 190 million copies. It’s only behind Microsoft-owned Minecraft, of which over 300 million copies have been sold.
Gamers have been eager for details about the new game for years. Sam Houser, Rockstar’s founder, announced in early November that the trailer would come out in December.
“As the label approaches its 25th anniversary next month, we congratulate Rockstar Games on their constant innovation in the pursuit of the highest quality interactive entertainment,” Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick told analysts on a November conference call.
You can watch the new trailer below:
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