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ResearchThree Things (11/15)

Three Things (11/15)

Nov 15, 2023

“Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like." — Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb

Slowing inflation

A broad slowdown in inflation continued in October as consumer prices overall were flat last month and rose 3.2% from a year earlier. So-called core prices, which exclude volatile food and energy items, rose a modest 0.2% in October, the smallest change since September 2021. The release sent stock and bond markets higher as the expectation is that the Fed is done raising rates.

Rather than focus on whether to raise rates, the debate at officials’ next meeting could instead center on whether and how to modify the guidance in their post meeting statement to reflect progress when it comes to inflation. The release sent stock and bond markets higher as figures were lower than expectations and the market now believes that the Fed could be done raising rates.

Defying startup slump

Khosla Ventures is in the final stages of raising $3 billion for its latest set of venture funds. The fundraise will be one of the largest completed by a venture firm this year and the  firm said it would focus on backing startups in research-intensive sectors such as “nuclear fusion and humanoid robots”. The fundraising comes at a time when Founders Fund, Tiger Global, and Sequoia Capital cut back the sizes of existing funds and future fundraising goals.

Khosla likely sees the less competitive funding market as an opportunity they’d like to take advantage of: leaning in while others are leaning out. The announcement also shows that there still is an appetite for venture investing despite interest rates cutting valuations. Venture is a long game, and if you’re investing today, you’re looking at liquidity in 2030 and it’s easy to believe that 2030 will be a completely different investing environment than what we're seeing today.

Airbnb M&A

Airbnb acquired a secretive new AI startup, Gameplanner.AI, on Tuesday. Gameplanner was founded by Adam Cheyer who helped launch Siri prior to Apple’s acquisition and it’s rumored that the purchase price was around $200 million. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky hinted that the Gameplanner team will focus on “accelerating” select AI projects and integrating their tooling into the platform.

It’s not immediately clear what Gameplanner does (the company doesn’t have an online presence) but the acquisition highlights the arms race that is unfolding when it comes to AI. This could be an acqui-hire type situation whereby Airbnb leverages their $11 billion war chest to acquire talent to drive their vision forward. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. 

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