Tech Update: Google’s Conference Goes Virtual, a Direct Listing Struggles, and an Unusual IPO
Discussing Google’s Tech Conference, Squarespace’s Direct Listing, and Jahez’s Upcoming IPO
Welcome to The Macro Mail’s Tech Newsletter. Since our last tech mail, a lot has happened - today’s newsletter discusses today’s newsletter discusses Google’s tech conference, Squarespace’s Direct Listing, and Jahez’s upcoming IPO.
Subscribe now to never miss an update.
We are excited to announce a collaboration with Oraclum Intelligence Systems in organizing a competition between traders over predicting the values of selected indices, asset prices, yields and currencies at the end of the trading day each week.
Every month, Oraclum will award the top 3 performers with $100 each!
The survey begins today and closes at 8am EST tomorrow. Hit the link below to sign up.
GOOGLE I/O CONFERENCE: Artificial Intelligence, Updates, and Operating Systems
Google’s annual I/O conference returned with a range of new announcements. After being cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event was held online, starting on May 18th, and was attended by 200,000 developers from 181 countries. Here are some of the announcements:
Vertex AI has received a general launch after two years of testing. These tools are used by developers to build, deploy and enhance their machine learning models, using Google’s pre-trained tools. Director of project management Craig Wiley explained that “we had dozens of machine learning services for customers…and none of them worked together. We’ve been running so fast to build them all, that there was no internal compatibility.” Google Cloud estimated that Vertex requires 80% fewer lines of code to train an AI, compared to competitive cloud providers
Google also introduced the Multitask Unified Model (MUM) neural network for natural language processing. It estimated that “MUM is 1,000 times more powerful” than its predecessor BERT, and that its ability to “multitask” in data processing will “unlock information in new ways”
Google demonstrated an AI tool that analyses pictures to identify skin, hair and nail conditions. The European Economic Area has awarded Google a CE Mark to use the system as a medical tool in Europe later this year
Android 12, the newest version of the world’s most popular phone operating system, has launched in open beta, allowing the public to download a test version before it is officially released in September 2021. Google described the update, which contains advanced privacy features and a new aesthetic layout, as “the biggest design change in Android's history”
Google’s smartphone cameras will more accurately depict skin tones. Product manager Sameer Samat said that “for people of color, photography has not always seen us as we want to be seen” and the new technology will “bring out natural brown tones” by making changes to color balance adjustments. The camera will make its debut on the new Google Pixel, scheduled to be released later this year
Google Photos, the company’s image storage offering, will use AI to create collections, using “little patterns” to customize albums of photos with similar content. To address concerns that these pictures may remind users of unpleasant periods of the past, Google will allow specific images, people or dates to be removed from the setting. Furthermore, it will use machine learning to create “cinematic moments,” merging two or three photos taking in rapid succession into a moving image
Smart Canvass will be introduced as an umbrella platform interconnecting Google Docs, Meet, Sheets, Tasks, and Slides. It will feature an “assisted writing” tool, which will identify gendered terms and offer gender neutral alternatives
Project “Starline” will enhance the visuals of video chats, a feature that has become rapidly more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. The technology will require multiple cameras, which are not currently offered on any of Google’s phones
Google’s Wear OS, its operating system for smartwatches and other wearable technology, will be merged with Samsung’s Tizen to form a unified platform allowing apps to run faster and with more efficient battery usage
Google Maps will use AI to identify eco-friendly, fuel-efficient and safer routes. By detecting road, weather and traffic conditions in which drivers are likely to suddenly brake, it aims to “reduce up to 100 million” thereby improving road safety
Google Search will add an “About This Result” feature later this month. This will facilitate verifying information sources and provide details about websites. It will be launched worldwide but initially only feature on English-language results
There’s a lot to unpack from this conference! This summary covers just the most important developments, and there are a plethora of smaller updates underlining Google’s commitment to improving its myriad offerings. Hopefully later this year, consumers will have a chance to test out these innovations for themselves.
WEBSITE HOSTING: Squarespace’s Direct Listing
Internet company Squarespace began trading publicly on the NYSE last week, with an initial valuation of $7.1 billion.
Squarespace offers a platform for website building, domain purchase and website hosting. Users take monthly subscription plans, which allow them to use templates for customize their website and set up online stores, and use the company’s tools for digital marketing
In 2020, Squarespace earned revenue of $621m, and expects that to grow to between $764m and $776m in 2021. In 2020, the company generated $30.6m in net income, with 3.7 million individual subscriptions by the end of the year
Squarespace undertook a direct listing in Wednesday 19th. This meant that their shares began trading on the stock market immediately, without the usual offering process of an IPO. 40 million shares were offered to the public, out of 71 million total outstanding
Trading opened at $48 per share, lower than the $50 reference price issued before the listing. Prices fell by 9% to $43.7 on the first day of trading, but recovered over the next few days, and closed at a high of $54.3 on Monday 24th
In March 2021, Squarespace completed a private fundraising round valuing the company at $10bn
There have been a number of high profile direct listings recently. Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase set a reference price of $250, and opened at $330. Streaming service Spotify set a reference of $132 and opened at over $165. Squarespace is the first major tech direct listing to struggle on its opening day. However, neither of the aforementioned companies have made significant gains since they started trading, so only time will tell whether Squarespace, which currently trades with a market value over 200 times its earnings, can grow into its valuation in the long term.
SAUDI ARABIA: Delivery company IPO
Saudi delivery company Jahez has hired HSBC to manage its IPO, in what would be the oil-rich country’s first tech startup listing.
The company plans to list on Nomu, a parallel stock market operated by the Saudi Stock Exchange, which imposes lighter restrictions to funnel investment to smaller, younger companies
Jahez was founded in 2016 and has grown to serve about 2 million customers. It hasn’t yet indicated its revenue or profitability
Jahez competes with multinational delivery companies, like Uber and Delivery Hero, which operate local subsidies Careem Now and Hunger Station respectively in Saudi Arabia
Jahez CEO, Ghassab Al Mandeel, spoke optimistically of his company’s future, saying “we will continue to expand our platform to tap into new growth opportunities offered by rapid, technology-enabled changes in consumer behavior”, and indicated that operations might expand outside Saudi Arabia to “the wider region”
For decades, the Saudi economy has been supported by Saudi Aramco, the majority state-owned oil company worth $1.9 trillion. However, as oil prices crashed last year, and with renewable energy possibly set to overtake oil by 2030, it will be essential for Saudi Arabia to stimulate innovation in the tech sector in order to drive new growth.
Disclaimer: All material presented in this newsletter is not to be regarded as investment advice, but for general informational purposes only. You are solely responsible for making your own investment decisions. Owners of this newsletter, its representatives, its principals, its moderators, and its members, are NOT registered as securities broker-dealers or investment advisors either with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or with any securities regulatory authority. By reading and using this newsletter or using our scontent on the web/server, you are indicating your consent and agreement to our disclaimer.