Portrait of an arms dealer – a look at Shopify (SHOP:NYSE)

For our last 10K club we discussed Shopify ($SHOP). Giorgio has a fantastic post going into the 10k details. The bull case for Shopify is all over the interwebs but to truly understand the company, it’s useful to formulate the other side of the argument. In this post lets deep dive into Shopify’s business model and strategy and work out the bear case. Standard disclaimer: this is not investment advice and I do not hold any positions in $SHOP. This is a thought experiment using the good business/bad business framework.

What is Shopify’s business model?

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Money often costs too much – a look at Adyen (ADYEN:EN)

“Only two ways to make money in business: One is to bundle; the other is unbundle.” – Jim Barksdale

In the last post, I talked about the history of merchant acquiring and how the industry evolved. This post talks about the natural progression of the trend and the rise of the full stack acquirer.

A quick recap

The core jobs to be done for merchant acquiring is to enable a merchant to accept credit card payments. It started with one institution, the bank, and then unbundled into a plethora of entities. We now have a complicated ecosystem consisting of the card networks, issuing banks, acquiring banks, payment processors, and the alphabet soup of PSPs and MSP’s. Merchant acquiring transitioned to being a commodity business and scale became king. The need for scale caused the companies to grow via acquisition.Read More »

The history of merchant acquiring |Rise of the full stack acquirer

Ayden was the next pick for the Fintech PM guild’s next 10k session. As I dug through their financials, I realized that I wasn’t familiar with the history of the business they were in. Why does merchant acquiring exist as an industry? What is the history of this business, why does it exist the way it does today? Let us take a step back and take a walk through memory lane.
 
To understand any system it is useful to have a framework around the core jobs to be done in the system. In a payment system, money is the main asset exchanged between parties and there are three main jobs to be done.

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To travel is to live – A journey through Booking Holdings (NYSE:BKNG)

I’m a broken record on this topic :), reading 10ks is the best free learning tool if you want to understand how businesses work. We have a 10K a month group as part of the Fintech PM guild and this month we tackled the travel behemoth, Booking Holdings.

What is Booking holdings?

Booking Holdings is the holding company for a constellation of brands and is an Online Travel agent company (OTA) that primarily serves the international market (Ex-US). It was previously known as the Priceline Group, renamed to Booking Holdings in 2018, and is listed on the NYSE (BKNG). The founding of the company has its roots in the acquisition of booking.com by priceline.com in 2005. They are headquartered in Amsterdam with operations in multiple countries. Their main brands are Priceline, booking.com, Kayak, OpenTable, and Agoda. In 2019 they did ~$15B in top-line revenue and their current market cap is ~$62B. A majority of booking.com revenue is driven by hotel bookings.Read More »

No place like home – A look into Zillow (NYSE:ZG)

I’ve often talked about 10K’s as being the perfect way to get up to speed in a new industry. Once a month a few of us PMs get together and do a deep dive on a particular company via its 10k. We call it our “10K a month” club :). Drop me a note if you want to be added to the group, the more diverse viewpoints the better the learnings! Last month we researched and chatted about Zillow. Highlights from our conversation follow.Read More »

Compete or Die – LiveNation Part Deux

Business success contains the seeds of its own destruction. The more Successful you are, the more people want a chunk of your business and then another chunk and then another until there is nothing ― Andrew S. Grove, Only the Paranoid Survive

So who should LiveNation be paranoid about? Who are its competitors?

As we saw the last post, LiveNation can be thought of a vertically integrated full-service live entertainment company. A comparable public competitor is the Madison Square Garden Company (MSG). They also describe themselves as the premier live entertainment company. Via their 10kRead More »

Mo Concerts Mo Money – A look at Live Nation (NYSE: LYV)

In the last post, I talked about getting into the habit of reading 10k’s. Time to dogfood my own advice :), for this post, I wanted to look at a completely new industry than the usual fodder. LiveNation is my first pick (NYSE:LYV). Latest 10K for 2018.

What are the goals of this exercise?

  • Understand the business model and a bit about the industry the company is in
  • What are the key growth levers for the business? What is the flywheel/network effect?
  • Who is the customer? What are the customer groups?
  • A brief look at the numbers
  • And finally – What is the competitive advantage of the business?

So let us begin!Read More »