31 episodes

Host Bill Griesinger brings an informed, unbiased and unique historical perspective to the venture capital and high-tech world. Drawing on over 20 years in venture finance, working with tech companies and venture capitalists, he offers an unfiltered and transparent view of the venture capital & high-tech universe.

Distilling Venture Capital Bill Griesinger

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Host Bill Griesinger brings an informed, unbiased and unique historical perspective to the venture capital and high-tech world. Drawing on over 20 years in venture finance, working with tech companies and venture capitalists, he offers an unfiltered and transparent view of the venture capital & high-tech universe.

    Hyliion Holdings (NYSE:HYLN); Conversation w/CEO Thomas Healy

    Hyliion Holdings (NYSE:HYLN); Conversation w/CEO Thomas Healy

    Introduction
    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech and VC landscape.  And provide you with information you can use.  
    Episode Introduction:
    Welcome back everyone.   In today’s Episode, I have the pleasure to be joined by Thomas Healy, Founder & CEO of Hyliion, creator and maker of high-tech drivetrain for traditional Class 8 long haul trucks powered by lithium-ion batteries and CNG Thank you Thomas for making the time to join me today…   First, congratulations on your public launch via the SPAC – Special Purpose Acq. Corp. which was official as of Sept. 28th.  It doesn’t seem all that long ago that we were getting introduced to Hyliion at the 2015 Rice Business Plan Competition – when you guys rolled into Houston – literally – from Carnegie Mellon with the big green Hyliion-branded truck…it was quite a prop!   In This Episode, Thomas Healy Covers Hyliion’s Journey to its Public Offering, Including:
    Background on the formation/launch of Hyliion Development of the “e-axle” electrified axle design; Lithium-ion/CNG design  Went public couple of weeks ago –  Came to Rice Bus. Plan Competition in 2015 – presented to over 500 people Brought prototype – goal of bringing electrification to the trucking space – virtually untapped market opportunity Semi-truck traffic is the backbone for moving cargo around the US and the globe Why did you choose a SPAC as avenue for going public?  Advantages, etc… Looked at all paths of private and going public Chose the SPAC path – a reverse merger into being a public co.    Merged with Tortoise Acquisition Corp.  Capital we brought in – Little over $500M Saw a great team in Tortoise in terms of similarities in outlook and key industry needs and characteristics Tortoise raised $235M over year ago – they pitched to their investors that they would go find a co. like Hyliion.   Their group looked at 100s of companies before selecting Hyliion – Tortoise is a big energy expertise player and particularly sustainable/efficiency drive Story behind the Hyliion name? Business Model & Business Model Characteristics Producing a fully electric truck – using an onboard natural gas generator to produce electricity and charge the battery Leverages Mega-trend toward renewable natural gas, as well Created very capital efficient business model – Hyliion is a powertrain co. working with existing OEMs like Volvo, Freightliner, Kenworth No need to reinvent the whole truck – solution and benefit is in the powertrain, leveraging great existing truck technology Infrastructure to recharge vehicles is one of the biggest hurdles and uses of capital to enter the market Our solution uses renewable and traditional natural gas to recharge the batteries Existing grid there – but hardly any recharging stations for electric trucks – so have to create the infrastructure, requiring billions of investor capital – just to set up the charging stations Two of the Tesla “Mega Chargers” actually uses massive amount of power to recharge trucks Go-to-Market Strategy…Incorporated design into the drivetrain of existing Class 8, long-haul truck Value of CNG and Lith.-ion combo Advantage of existing CNG fueling infrastructure around the US – big competitive advantage Discusses advantages over hydrogen as a fuel source How Hyliion defines your Addressable Market? Key Partner/Investor network (Sumitomo, Dana, Inc. – leading force in trucking industry – valuable partner on supply chain and also mfg.   Product is already shipped in low volume today:  Selected use-case partner/pilot examples; (Penske,

    • 27 min
    Episode 009 - Cryptocurrency Mining/Energy Operator Aurum Capital Ventures - (Revisit with John Paul Baric, Founder & CEO)

    Episode 009 - Cryptocurrency Mining/Energy Operator Aurum Capital Ventures - (Revisit with John Paul Baric, Founder & CEO)

    Introduction
    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use. Episode Introduction:
    Welcome back everyone.  Well, today I have the pleasure of welcoming back to the program JP Baric, CEO and Founder at Aurum Capital Ventures, which is engaged in the crypto-mining business.  JP thank you for coming back to join me on the show.    So, the last time we did a program was in mid-May, about 5 months ago, and I introduced Aurum Capital Ventures then as a technology/energy company directly involved in multiple aspects of the crypto-mining industry – and we delved into the many interesting aspects of your business model.  I have received a lot of positive feedback to that show – so glad you’re here to do this again… Crypto-currency Mining involves sourcing and utilizing the most advanced equipment, for sure, which you guys provide, but also one of the key components that has a huge impact on the cost and viability of crypto-mining itself – is the cost and amount of energy consumed – and, therefore, the energy component and its costs have a huge impact on the industry and its success Aurum has developed a truly innovative vision and approach to this aspect (Energy) of the business.  And I wanted to provide a platform here today for you to explore in-depth how you think about and approach the idea of generating, producing and sourcing energy at the core of   Please introduce and present this in the way you think would be most helpful and useful for our listeners to appreciate the impact of this vision Energy Utilization & Economics of Crypto-Mining:
    JP provides a deep-dive into the interrelated metrics and dynamics of Energy and Crypto-mining.  Here is what you will learn: Terahash Rate – core measure of energy usage in crypto-mining Can predict and model the Terahash rate for mining equipment.  USD per terahash – how much we make on a USD basis - the speed of how fast a mining machine runs.   Price per terahash dropped to 7.5 cents – when BTC crashed (March).  Was 13 cents per terahash.   Today, sitting at 8 cents per terahash with BTC at roughly $12,000 today.    Amount of new machines on the network has grown – at 8 cents per TH – betting that price of BTC will continue to rise… Miners all over the world are thus, searching for most cost-effective energy costs.   Cost/Mwh Rates in crypto-mining Old machines vs. New machines and economics Revisit the halving event from May 12, 2020 – when reward for mining was, by design, the reward went from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC – Impact? Inflation Rate of BTC (1.8% infl. Rate) compared to USD inflation…digital currency has a lower effective inflation rate than the fiat currency! BTC price may be volatile but depends on what you compare it to New equip. is coming online line as fast as the manufactures can produce them.  Most are made in Taiwan and China Coming into facilities that have power in the 4cent to 5 cent range Mining Machines: The S-9s are the older;  Newer are the Ant Miner S19 Pros are 30 Juuls per terahash.   Square Announces Purchase of $50MM BTC for its Balance Sheet
    Here’s a perhaps diversion from our main topic related to mining & energy, but it’s related to Bitcoin and the larger ecosystem.  So, here’s some industry news I wanted to get your opinion on re Square – We all know them as the POS payment company. not only does Square have the retail app and footprint now, but they’ve also got a lot of very granular, small business merchant data. They've turned that into Square Capital and the small business l

    • 33 min
    Episode 008 - FOCUS-ON-FINTECH Series - André Bastos, Co-Founder & COO, REBEL - São Paulo, Brasil

    Episode 008 - FOCUS-ON-FINTECH Series - André Bastos, Co-Founder & COO, REBEL - São Paulo, Brasil

    Introduction
    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech and VC landscape.  And provide you with information you can use. Episode Introduction:
    Welcome back everyone.  Today’s Episode is another in my Focus-on-Fintech Series where I bring you a close-up look into the companies in the Fintech Sector and the innovations they are bringing to financial services markets; And, based on the intro theme music for today’s Episode, (Aquarela do Brasil by Gal Costa) you may have guessed we are headed again to the land of Samba, Carnaval, Futebol and now, FINTECH - Brasil.  We’ll revisit why Brasil has become one of the hottest Fintech markets globally, attracting massive investor and consumer interest.   Today I highlight one of the fastest growing Fintech companies in Brasil, São Paulo-based REBEL, a leading consumer lending fintech I’ve been following for around a year or so now…(That’s REBEL.com.br) The REBEL Story
    To help me do all of that, I am super-excited and pleased to be joined today by André Bastos, a Co-Founder of REBEL and currently its COO, among other things;   André, thank you very much for joining me today. There are a lot of interesting and important characteristics of the REBEL bus. model I want to get into today but; To start things off, please give us some background, history on the formation of the company and what REBEL offers;  when and how you got started, and the motivations behind the creation the company.  What was the impetus, motivation? The REBEL Business Model & Business Model Characteristics
    REBEL services offering; Starting with a true Lending offering as opposed to credit card or payment services like many other fintech models Importance of developing your proprietary Credit Scoring Technology;  as a competitive advantage Talk about how REBEL drives client engagement and loyalty;  REBEL is taking a unique, dedicated approach when it comes to cust. Engagement – right?  With a hands-on, Human touch;    What is the role and strategy of the Financial Wellness offering? Is there a consumer finance education component to this initiative?  Why is that important? Discuss how blockchain and Machine Learning plays a critical role in REBEL’s offering and strategy…How do you utilize the capabilities of blockchain technology? Will REBEL consider secured lending in the future? Will you expand to other geographies in LatAm, elsewhere, in the future? Licensing opportunity for the credit score tech. in other geographies? Is there any unique or special story around the company name REBEL and your branding strategies? Other Brasil Fintech Companies that Have Raised Capital Recently:
    NuBank has raised over $800MM, starting with just a credit card offering, now valued at over $10B; Neon Pagamentos just raised a $300MM Series C round earlier this month and has raised over $420MM;  Klarna raised $650MM at a $10.6B valuation, double its prior; Offers a buy-now-pay-later in 4 installments bus. model – Mach. Learning approach
    Growth Prospects for REBEL?
    REBEL has had impressive growth:   Loan Originations nearly tripled 2H 2019 vs 1H 2019 How did 1H 2020 track? What’s growth expectation for 2020? When do you predict reaching breakeven and CF positive results? What is your addressable market?   $100B USD for unsecured consumer loans – huge! Brasil Credit Markets – Historical Perspective
    I wanted to discuss credit markets in Brasil historically and why the current environment is so much more Fintech-friendly than in the past – as regulators have become somewhat accommodative embracing digital solutions

    • 43 min
    Episode 007 - FOCUS-ON-FINTECH Series - Yuval Brisker, Co-Founder & CEO, ALVIERE

    Episode 007 - FOCUS-ON-FINTECH Series - Yuval Brisker, Co-Founder & CEO, ALVIERE

    Show Introduction – 
    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world, including Fintech.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech and VC landscape.  And provide you with information you can use. Episode Introduction:
    Today’s Episode is another in my Focus-on-Fintech Series where I provide you with a close-up look into the top companies in the Fintech sector that are bringing new innovations to the financial services market In today’s Episode, I delve into and distill down new Fintech Company, Alviere, just launched earlier this month. Alviere has created and launched a plug-and-play, single-integration SW platform that streamlines and automates delivery of a broad array of financial products and services. It is headquartered in Cleveland, OH and Lisbon, Portugal – we’ll get into that aspect of the business a bit more, as well. To help me do that, I am pleased to be joined today by Yuval Brisker who is the Co-Founder and CEO of Alviere.  Yuval, thank you very much for taking the time to join me today.    Today, You Will Learn the Following About Alviere:
    Background behind company’s genesis, development and launch; The many “learnings” from Mezu payment app. operations;  highlight experience and pains of taking a payments fintech to market and how it laide the groundwork for Alviere; Yuval’s extensive experience/background as a pioneer in the development of B2B SaaS platform tech companies – your first having been acquire by Oracle Story behind the Alviere name…?
    Business Model Features & Characteristics Yuval provides details on the HIVE solution and its components; Selected use-case applications, as noted in Press Release info and other stories – examples of business users; Importance of Alviere Financial Institution Partners and related network in delivering the offering; Fact that this product is fully developed, tested and ready for market, as scale;  Discuss Revenue Model - Services, subscription-based revenue model Addressable Market – Your ready for US and Canada;  Mexico by end of 2020;  Other international expansion? Go-to-Market Strategies… Goal is to be the Amazon Web Services offering of the Financial Services sector  We also highlight Yuval’s background as a pioneer in the development of B2B SaaS tech companies;  Acquisition of TOA by Oracle (2014), Mezu payment app., now Alivere; Plans for Capital to Grow – Yuval discusses his thoughts on capital needs to grow the business; Yuval is no stranger to raising capital from Venture and other investors.  Yuval discusses some of the key objectives in that regard with respect to Alviere? Roll-out Plan for International Expansion Competitive Advantages
    Description of the competitive landscape, relative cost/pricing structure and how Alviere leverages its expertise to bring a compelling value proposition to clients Other competitive advantages, differentiation – Beyond traditional Banking-as-a-Service offerings; Closing Remarks:
    Yuval, thank you very much for joining me today
    Contact Information, Alviere
    Yuval, how can those seeking additional information and wishing to learn more about Alviere contact you or the firm?  Website: www.alviere.com   Email: yuval.brisker@alviere.com Alviere on Linkedin  Thank you for joining me for this edition of DVC.  I hope you found today’s discussion with Yuval Brisker and Alviere interesting and it gave you some things to think about regarding rapidly advancing trends in Fintech services.  
    I look forward to joining on my next episode of Distilling Venture Capital

    • 54 min
    Episode 006 – UNICORN-MANIA – WeWork & its Investors Confront Reality

    Episode 006 – UNICORN-MANIA – WeWork & its Investors Confront Reality

     
    Introduction
    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use  
    Opening Observations:
    Hello everyone, and welcome back.  I promised you in the prior Episode that I would devote this Episode to distilling down one of the most famous poster-kids for Unicorns-aren’t-real; WeWork Today, I am going to provide you the insights and analysis that the technology and financial press, investors and others have failed to deliver to you over the last few years regarding this tarnished unicorn. To set the stage though, let’s do a quick timeline review of WeWork leading up to and then after its failed IPO of Sept. of 2019:   WeWork valued itself at a cool $47B by early 2019 and, that in fact would be its valuation leading up to its announced IPO WeWork filed its S-1 and IPO paperwork in mid-Aug. 2019 After more than a few I-Banks and others scrutinized its financial condition and bus. model and “questioned” the proposed go-public valuation the Co. made some, shall we say, “adjustments” to its valuation  After some consideration, WeWork suggested it would now go public at, uh, $10B-$16B Bam!  A greater than 65% vaporization of its valuation in a matter days - amazing Cancelled its IPO in Sept. 2019 when support waned By Oct. 2019, Adam Nuemann asked to step down after discovering a few “corporate governance” problems.  He received a total $1.7B golden parachute to go away. Bloomberg opinion writer, Matt Levine, put it this way in a late Oct. 2019 piece, writing tongue-in-cheek suggested how the news was communicated to employees at the time:  It was explained, “We had to give him a billion dollars to go away because we couldn’t afford to have him stick around,”  So, his value to the Company was negative a billion dollars. Levine continues, in other words, “We can’t pay you for your good work because it was more urgent to pay your boss a billion dollars to stop doing his bad work.”  Sounds about right. By Oct. 2019, life support was needed.  The Co. accepted (as if it had a choice) a Softbank rescue pkg. where SB took control of the Co., valuing it at $8B (about $19/share, which, as it turns out, was still too high) More recently (April 2020), SoftBank pulled the plug on and backed out of a planned tender offer of an addl $3B to bail out, er, I mean plan to shore up, WeWorks shareholders. To a lawsuit; Following the termination of that agreement, WeWork Board voted to sue the only thing that was keeping it alive…SoftBank’s money.  Great strategy Then came the question;  Who should lead the Co. post-A. Nuemann?   After being led by such an irreplaceable visionary as Adam Nuemann (according to the S-1), surely a similarly disruptive, forward thinking genius would be required.  Or, you could hire this guy: in Feb. 2020 WeWork announced it had named Sandeep Mathrani, a senior executive with RE Company Brookfield Properties, as its new CEO. Wait, what?  An experienced RE executive from one of the top companies in the field? A sordid mess, I know…but this is what passes for reality now when you are dealing in the land of unicorns, right?  Things get a little distorted
    Let’s get back to reality and restore some meaning to this mess:
    I told you my main objective is to cut through the hype that tends to dominate… With a bit of cursory, basic diligence, I’ll point out and highlight a few of the basic risks of the WeWork bus. model.  Something one would have expected from the analysts, I-Banks, INVESTORS, lenders and, oh yeah, the tech and financial press, to have done – bu

    • 22 min
    Episode 005 – UNICORN-MANIA - Redux; Failure of the Tech Press; The Sagas of WeWork & Uber

    Episode 005 – UNICORN-MANIA - Redux; Failure of the Tech Press; The Sagas of WeWork & Uber

    Introduction
    Welcome to Distilling Venture Capital.  I am your host, Bill Griesinger Distilling VC is a visionary podcast that provides an insightful and informed view of the key trends affecting the VC and tech startup world.  My mission is to cut through and go beyond the hype that tends to dominate the tech landscape.  And provide you with information you can use Opening Observations:
    In Today’s Episode I return to what I have termed Unicorn-mania, building on the subject of my first episode in March.  So, it will be a Unicorn-mania Redux. I’m returning to this topic b/c, well, we need to revisit it primarily b/c things seem to be sliding further toward the insane, literally with each passing week. And, I will talk about the continuation of this insanity in the context of some real-life examples:  The true poster-kids for “Unicorns are not real”…  Specifically, I’ll provide insights into WeWork and Uber, and the unmistakable role played by Softbank’s Vision Fund in helping to fuel the craziness. And, let me say from the outset, how disappointing it is to see the technology press and the data analytics firms like CB Insights and Pitchbook (a Morningstar Co.), continue to engage in this ridiculous charade.  I am going to get into some examples of that in a moment.  Suffice it to say, that if you have a subscription to one of these firms, my analysis may leave you questioning what value are getting for the money… To begin, let’s quickly review what I covered and highlight a few take-aways from Episode 1 of Unicorn-mania;   I outlined and highlighted the hype that characterizes VC and techland today with respect to overvalued, so-called Unicorns – companies alleged to be worth $1B+ I also highlighted the Stanford Univ. Study, Squaring Venture Capital Valuations with Reality, that reveals and proves that so-called Unicorn tech companies are substantially overvalued – and offers a valuation model that really works in valuing theses companies  The Study dissects and debunks the use of post-money valuation as nothing short of an illegitimate method for valuing any company, let alone VC-backed private tech companies. Before I go further into the topic, I am going to strongly encourage you to please refer to the Show Notes for this Episode to access links to the following:
    Link to Stanford University Study:   Squaring Venture Capital Valuations with Reality - Downloadable pdf found here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2955455
    (Social Science Research Network – SSRN)
    Link to Video:   Presentation at SVOD (Sil. Valley Open Doors Conf.), June 2016 by Ilya Strebulav, author of the Study and Professor, Stanford Univ. Grad. School of Business:   https://youtu.be/k4OtGWZ3iYI
    Original Version of the Study was submitted and published April 19, 2017;  However, the findings were presented about a year earlier in June 2016 at SVOD Conf. (Silicon Valley Open Doors) Where Prof. Strebulav was the Keynote Speaker (I encourage you to got to the link and watch it.  It’s
    Summary of the Findings – From the Study Abstract:
    We develop a valuation model for venture capital--backed companies and apply it to 135 US unicorns, that is, private tech companies with reported valuations above $1 billion. We value unicorns using financial terms from legal filings and find that reported unicorn post--money valuations average 48% above fair value, with 14 being more than 100% above.  Every Company reviewed and valued, (100% of the Sample) was overvalued to some degree – that means not one company came in at the post-money valuation utilized by the VC industry Values were calculated for each share class, which yields lower valuations because most unicorns gave recent investors major protections such as initial public offering (IPO) return guarantees (15%), vetoes over down-I

    • 27 min

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