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Headline startup valuation numbers hide lower risk for investors – Deepak Shenoy, Capital Mind

by Deepak Shenoy, Capital Mind Olacabs has raised about $1.18 billion in total, in 7 rounds according to TechCrunch. Recently, it raised $500 million at a valuation of $5 billion. This provides the social media a large amount of content to get agitated about, saying goodness, how can a taxi company that doesn’t own any taxis be worth more than Rs 30,000 crore! But they aren’t exactly valued at that much. You just got conned by the headline. Some investor has 10% of the company and they paid $500 million. That’s where the facts stop. Then you extrapolate, saying oh, if his 10% is worth $500 million, the company should be worth 10 times that? Wrong. Because he’s not just an arbitrary investor. He has the power of those two words: Liquidation preference (LP). What is an LP? And Why Can’t They Invent Better Acronyms? To the second, I am with you. I can feel your pain, though I haven’t held a vinyl record in the last 10 years. We’ll call it “Liq-Pref” but we just know you’ll hate that more. But let’s get back to the story. A Liquidation Preference is simply this: Dude, I put in $500 million money, you give me some shares, okay, whatever. But if you sell this company, for any amount, then I first take my $500 million back. Kapiche? That’s gone. It’s my capital back to me. You don’t see any of it. Then, if there is any money leftover, I take my 10% through…

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