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The $90B Fast Fashion Giant 🛍️

PLUS: Unicorns are Rare Again 🦄

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Here's what we're serving up today:

  • The $90B Fast Fashion Giant 🛍️

  • Unicorns are Rare Again 🦄

  • Trending Tools ⚒️ 

  • Wednesday Wires 💰

The $90B Fast Fashion Giant 🛍️

One of the contradictions often talked about in Digital Native is Gen Z’s simultaneous love for the environment and penchant for fast fashion. 

People do like to buy sustainably - but not quite as much as they like a good deal.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of this - Shein. 

Shein has gobbled up US fast fashion. When the company entered the US market in 2018, its sales hovered around $1.5B.

Those figures now stand at around $45B, belittling other fast-fashion giants like Zara and H&M.

Fashion Technology First 

Shein is NOT a fashion company. It is more Silicon Valley than Fashion Avenue. 

There are 8000 new items added to Shein every day, while Zara adds 500 every week. Shein is basically an internet-native reincarnation of old-school fast fashion, leveraging technology to squeeze three week design-to-production timelines into 3 days!

It combs through fashion websites, Google Trends and Social Media to figure out what’s in style, creates designs quickly, forecasts demand and adjusts inventory in real-time. 

The Biggest IPO of 2024

The company is looking to go public this year but aren’t quite sure where to list themselves. 

Their first preference is obviously the American stock exchange, but unlike American teens, US lawmakers aren’t feeling the #OOTD vibes. 

And it’s not just the US that has a problem with Shein. Their homeland - China also isn’t playing too easy. 

The US is scrutinizing Shein over its China ties and China doing the same over its US ties. 

Beijing now requires all Chinese companies to get approval before an overseas listing. The country is looking for any national-security risks, including the type of Chinese data that Shein would disclose overseas. 

If not the US, then where? 

London, Singapore and Hong-Kong are all in the running, ready to roll out the red carpet for Shein’s grand public listing. 

With whispers of a $90B valuation, almost every exchange would want a piece of what could be the biggest global IPO for this year.

Unicorns are Rare Again 🦄

The term Unicorn was coined by venture capitalist - Aileen Lee in 2013, referring to startups that have a $1B+ valuation. 

Because being valued at a billion dollars back then was indeed as rare as … well, a unicorn.

However, with the turn of the decade, the number of unicorns has ballooned to a staggering ….checks notes…. 1381 companies.

More like “horses wearing party hats” than “unicorns”.

The Unicorn Boom

  • 2010s: The era of easy money saw a dramatic increase in the number of unicorns. Venture capital flowed freely, and startups achieved billion-dollar valuations at an unprecedented rate.

  • 2021: The peak year for unicorn creation, with a record-breaking 344 new unicorns minted. 

Unicorns in Retreat

But now, as the tides of venture capital and economic climates shift, these majestic creatures are becoming scarce once again.

  • VC investment dropped to $170B last year, down by half from the heights of 2021. 

  • Acquisitions also saw a downturn, with 698 VC-backed companies purchased last year, compared to 1,311 in 2021. 

  • More than 80% of unicorns have seen their valuations drop below their last funding round, complicating exit strategies.

All these factors relay that these companies are now navigating a market where investors are increasingly looking to cash out. 

Cash is King

Startups are known for prioritizing growth over profits - a fact VCs were happy to accept during the low-interest rate days. 

There’s now a renewed focus on frugality and sustainability, a shift from growth-at-all costs to growth-if-it-makes sense. 

☄️ Asteroids ☄️

Quora's Poe now lets AI bot creators earn money through per-message pricing and a subscription revenue share model, boosting the creator economy in an exciting way! 🤖💸

Meta is releasing its next-gen AI model Llama 3 within a month, aiming to make it the world's most useful assistant while taking an open-source approach! 🦙🤖

Beeper, the messaging app that unifies inboxes, is being acquired by Automattic (WordPress' parent company) to further their mission of open, encrypted communication! 💬🔐

📽️ InfinityAI - Type a script, get a video out

🤖 ListenRobo - Transcribe and summarize media files and podcasts

⏯️ Smartly - Digital advertising and creative management platform

💰 Wednesday Wires 💰

Proxima Fusion, a spin-off from Max Planck Institute, has raised $21.7M to pursue fusion power using advanced stellarators and AI simulations, bringing us closer to harnessing the power of the sun! 🌞⚛️

Sprinto, a security compliance and risk platform, has raised a $20M Series B round to build more automation into its compliance management platform. 🔒️🔑 

EarliTec Diagnostics just raised $21.5M to expand its AI-powered system for early autism diagnosis in kids as young as 16 months, helping provide timely support! 👶🧠

AI Jane: Artificial intelligence investment journalist building an easy to read ai investing email newsletter. Get smarter about investing in ai in 5 minutes.

The Aurorean: This newsletter scours 100+ sources so you don’t have to. The Aurorean is your guide to discover the essential news, research, beauty and humor in science every week.

The EV Universe: Keep up with the electric vehicle industry.

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