Sønr vs CB Insights vs the ‘other ones’
I appreciate a bunch of you reading this are already customers, so I’ll try and keep the ‘sell’ to a minimum.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been iterating our Sønr pitch deck ahead of a raise early next year. A question that keeps coming up is ‘How do you differ from CB Insights?’.
A fair question. Other than an obvious price distinction, it’s a nuanced set of differentiators – data, features, audience/user. To make it a little easier, I’ve pulled the world of market intelligence together. Shout if you want a version you can actually read.
Bottom line: if you work in insurance and innovation, you should buy Sønr.
On that note, we’re running a zero cost, 2-month trial of Sønr Enterprise in the New Year. It’s part of our Sønr Insiders programme, open to a max of twelve companies. The small print is you mustn’t have been part of the programme before.
The delay of the Lemonade IPO
If you haven’t read Daniel Schreiber’s third anniversary ‘Transparency Chronicle’ you absolutely should. That’s where you should start.
It’s well written and gives a transparent breakdown of their performance over the years.
In the week I got a call from a journo asking me for comment on the recent delay to their IPO. It’s interesting to think it through.
Put yourself in Daniel Schreiber’s shoes - you’ve a business which is smashing its numbers, receiving huge consumer adoption and advocacy, and has barely scratched the opportunity in front of you. And, by now, you’ve got an army of shareholders – staff and investors - who are absolutely loaded…on paper. But the problem is, it’s only on paper.
The way to realise that wealth is, of course, to float.
And yet right now we’ve a hugely unforgiving, volatile set of public markets, never more so since the WeF*ckUp. And if you’ve got Softbank as a primary investor, that sadly doesn’t help either.
So, delay the Lemonade IPO? Absolutely yes. One hundred percent.
Imagine the damage of a lacklustre market debut. Sure it hurts delaying sending your kids to expensive schools and buying that beach house, but there’s a bigger impact of an IPO that is often overlooked.
Once the shares are public - especially if they're open to be traded - it’s very natural for staff (many of whom will be shareholders) to focus on the realisation of short-term value. Why wouldn’t you? Who cares about the longer-term business?
And so, in my humble opinion, good call Daniel Schreiber. And the same goes to all the other founders who will push back to later next year. Let’s hope by then everyone will have sorted their unit economics and the markets can recover from the sham valuations we’ve been seeing recently.
Did you hear the one about Prince Andrew and…
I’m assuming the global media has dined on Prince Andrew’s catastrophic BBC interview, as much as we have in the UK. What a WeWork that was (see what I did there?).
The knock on, other than him stepping away from his Royal duties, is the stepping back of the corporate sponsors from his Pitch@Palace initiative - a platform connecting entrepreneurs with potential supporters, and where shortlisted startups get to pitch at Buck Palace.
It’s a shame as it’s a well(ish)-regarded and highly publicised programme in the UK. But boy, I don’t blame those companies. I’d like to say more but as I can’t be too far from a Knighthood it’s probably right I don’t.
In other somewhat equally random news, Uber’s Travis Kalanick is back. And who has poured $400m into his new venture but Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund?! Love it, love it, love it (please read with a somewhat despairing, cynical tone).
The new business is CloudKitchens – that’s right, smart kitchens made available for delivery-only restaurants. Fair play, I actually quite like the idea. The best bit – it’s worth a reported $5bn already. Ha, don’t get me started on that one!
A busy week of writing cheques
Let’s get on to some real money. Alibaba hit a whopping $38bn in sales for Singles Day last week. Gulp. It's also just priced 500m shares for its upcoming public offering in Hong Kong, setting the company up to raise more than $11bn.
Tencent also had a busy week – they bought a 10% stake of Indian comparison business Policybazaar for $150m and pushed further into healthcare with an investment into Beijing’s oncology data platform Medbanks.
Closer to home and UK’s Plum, an AI assistant that ‘grows your money’, raised $3m to help it step into Europe and France’s Luko raised €20m for smart home tech expansion.
Australia's Cover Genius announced a $10m raise. These are the guys whose insurance distribution platform provides protection for the customers of some of the world’s largest online companies. The money’s to be spent growing their share of the US and UK markets and moving into Asia.
And in the US a few that stand out: Datacubes which is eliminating the admin in commercial underwriting raised $15.2m, CyberCube the cyber risk analytics guys, raised $35m, and lastly, Vouch Insurance the business insurance for startups, raised $45m.
There’s definitely something interesting in this new generation of businesses. Whether it’s Vouch selling insurance to the emergent startup market, CloudKitchens tapping into the changing commercial kitchen needs, or I guess even with Sønr, providing innovation intelligence to corporates. It’s all super niche stuff but wholly relevant in the modern day.
Google + your health data + a serious lack of that being okay
Let’s jump into health. There’s so much going on in this space at the mo.
Keeping with investments and let’s start with Europe. In France, the Hoppen team raised €32m. The company offers digital tools to healthcare institutions, improving the care and monitoring of patients as well as simplify the work of hospital staff.
In Italy, TeiaCare raised €1.1m for their monitoring technology. I like these guys a lot and if you’re in this space, they’re worth checking out.
Their thesis is if appropriate measures are implemented at the right time, ageing does not directly lead to significant increases in the cost of healthcare. That’s one you’ve got to look into, right?
Out East, the Singapore-based Lucence raised $10m in Series A funding. Lucence uses liquid biopsy, which is less evasive than tissue biopsies, to help clinicians analyse tumours and make treatment decisions. And out West US-based HealthCare.com secured $18 million in Series B funding to become the preeminent source for helping consumers compare and enrol in health insurance and Medicare plans.
I swear, every time I write about healthtech, I can’t but help feel I should be doing something better with my own time. How about we frame it like this? I continue to make sure Sønr is the leading market-intelligence platform for insurance companies, this helps you accelerate innovation and grow your business, which in turn brings greater security and support to millions of people around the world? There. That I can live with.
In corporate land, Aflac Corporate Ventures has put another chunk of money into Sharecare, taking their total investment in the startup to a whopping $425m. That’s some proper investment right there.
And SOMPO Holdings and Palantir Technologies have announced the formation of Palantir Technologies Japan, a $150 million, 50/50 joint venture to promote the ‘security, health and wellbeing of Japanese organisations and society’.
Before jumping into the tech giants, a health insurer the other side of the world that’s punching way above its weight. Southern Cross Health Society in NZ has launched Aimee - an AI-powered digital assistant helping customers make the best decisions when it comes to their health insurance. Again, if you’re a health insurer and you’re not tracking the innovation coming out of these guys, you probably should.
Right, no Sø.Nws is complete without a bit of Google and Amazon chat.
It was also reported that Ascension, the second-largest healthcare company in the US, is sharing the complete health data (patient names, D.o.B.'s, lab results, doctors diagnoses etc) of tens of millions of Americans with Google. Are you kidding? Just beyond wrong/terrifying/amazing.
Oh and whilst they’re up to this, they’re also moving into banking.
Still not worried about the tech giants eating your lunch?
In other, somewhat less ‘exciting’ news, there was a subtle change to PillPack’s branding. PillPack being the internet pharmacy Amazon acquired back in 2018. The shift was from “PillPack an Amazon company” to “PillPack by Amazon Pharmacy”.
Whilst most of the operation is in fulfilling multiple prescriptions and mailing them to customers, there’s plenty of talk of adding pharmacies to its retail stores, including Whole Foods. Or, failing that, they can take a leaf out of CVS’ book, who made their first residential drone deliveries this week.
Drone’s delivering prescription drugs to residential properties – what could possibly go wrong? Now where’s that catapult I got in last year’s stocking…
2020, the year of peak divergence
Right, let’s wrap this up with some more generic industry news.
A couple of days back it was announced that Aon was to acquire CoverWallet, Hippo has acquired Sheltr, and Zego has secured its license to underwrite insurance in the UK.
All of that needs unpacking. Sadly, you might have to do that in your own time.
What is for sure, is there’s a lot of growing up in Insurtech happening right now. I’ve just written a piece for the UK’s Insurance Post on the peak divergence between incumbents and tech startups. Not sure when it’ll be published but keep an eye out. I can’t promise it’s any good but hoping Swifty will dust some magic on it and make it palatable.
A couple of product launches that caught my eye: EverQuote launched Sage, its ‘in-house sales agency’ offering life insurance agents free leads, and Zesty.ai released a new property change detection product.
On the partnership front, Direct Line has teamed up with Drover to insure its consumer vehicle base, and Wrisk announced their first mileage-based car insurance product with the RAC.
And to finish on a low - I think that’s what they recommend at writing school - ZugarZnap the insurer for millennials has closed down. And my favourite Uber-alternative in NYC, Juno, has shut shop too. Tough times (mainly for Juno, not sure I ever really got ZugarZnap).
It’s Friday. It’s time to take the dog for a walk and then write client Christmas cards. I know, true story.
Don’t forget to shout me if you’d like to know more about Sønr Insiders. It’s a great way for you to get to see the value of the platform and for us to learn how we can make your day-to-day a whole load easier.
Also, one ask: if you enjoy reading this stuff, please help share it with others. Maybe forward this to someone in your team or on LinkedIn. You know the drill.
Have a good weekend all. Thanks for being there for me.
Sø.Nws is brought to you by Sønr.
Sønr is a world-leading market intelligence platform created specifically for the insurance sector. It is used by small and large insurance companies, around the world, to accelerate corporate innovation.
It provides intelligence on market trends, competitor playbooks and disruptive tech companies globally. It also has a number of features that help you track and manage scouting activity across your organisation.