Welcome to this week’s Private Markets Express, a digest of small pieces of private equity news and knowledge gathered for your reading pleasure.

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For anyone who invested with us in DocuSign,  the latest update is that the company is aiming for an IPO by early 2018. According to MarketWatch, the electronic signature and digital document management company is getting close to break even on a cash flow basis and moving further into the payments space. In an interview with MarketWatch, Daniel Springer, Chief Executive of DocuSign, said, “I would be surprised by early next year if we weren’t filing or public.”

DocuSign was founded in 2003 and has raised more than $500 million in funding. The company was last valued at $3 billion, is venture-backed by investors including Bain Capital and ClearBridge Investments, and also has funding from strategic partners like Salesforce, Alphabet, Intel, and Dell. Springer says the company’s revenues is “multiples” of $100 million, which is typically a threshold for companies to go public, and that it has a path to profitability. “We are just getting to a place of being operating cash flow break even,” Springer said in his interview. If you want to read the whole article, find it here.

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Lyft is now building its own self-driving technology, which is a huge deal and has a major impact on the future of transportation. On Friday the ride-hailing company said it would finally go beyond partnering with other companies on autonomous driving, and in a significant shift, it will start building some of the technology itself. Until now, it has relied entirely on partnerships, with Waymo, NuTonomy, General Motors, and Jaguar Land Rover, to develop the technology. To accomplish this, Lyft is leasing a massive 50,000-square foot Palo Alto office space to be turned into a testing and research facility.

CNBC interviewed Raj Kapoor, Lyft’s Chief Strategy Officer, to get his insights on Lyft’s decision to get into the self-driving game. If you want to watch the 6-minute interview, click here. Some highlights that came up in the interview are:

  • Lyft now completes 1 million+ rides per day and is operating in 350+ US cities;
  • Lyft owns valuable data for self-driving algorithms;
  • Lyft wants to develop its own self-driving tech because there is an opportunity to bring self-driving tech back to partners (GM, Waymo, NuTonomy, Jaguar Land Rover) and collaborate with them;
  • Lyft wants to create an open environment with the industry to move self-driving forward, as there is a huge market opportunity;
  • Lyft driverless cars will be on the streets in next few months. They will first be rolling out driverless cars in Boston with partner NuTonomy;
  • Why driverless cars in a nutshell? (1) safer (2) cheaper for the consumer in the long run;
  • When asked how self-driving vehicles will effect Lyft’s drivers – Lyft will always need drivers. Currently, we are at 0.4 of 1% of passenger miles driven in the US, with AV (autonomous vehicles) & EV (electric vehicles), we are going to go to 95% – since driverless car rollout will be slow, we will need more drivers in the meantime;
  • Lyft also sees many new jobs for drivers (healthcare, driving the elderly, etc).

To watch the full interview and hear all these points and more discussed in further detail, click here.

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The leading music service, Spotify, is close to completing a new licensing pact with Warner Music Inc. According to Reuters, it is the last big music royalty deal Spotify needs before pushing ahead with a U.S. stock market listing. Reuters sources see the deal being signed by September as major issues such as granting loss-making Spotify a more favorable revenue split in return for making some new albums accessible only to its paying subscribers for a defined period have already been agreed upon.

Our previous blog post: Spotify Going Public? provides details on Spotify potentially going public via a direct listing.

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