Apr 6, 2022 - Economy & Business

Fast's collapse won't be unique

A shopping cart with a don't sign on it
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Fast, the one-stop checkout startup valued last year at over $500 million, on Tuesday came to a screeching halt. No down round. No belt-tightening. Just a straight-out shutdown.

Why it matters: Around 450 people lost their jobs, and investors like Stripe, Addition and Index Ventures lost around $120 million (depending on if any value can be recouped via asset sales).

The big picture: Fast paid too little attention to burn rate because it just assumed the VC gravy train would keep rolling. It's not the only one, so don't be surprised to see similar stories in the near future.

  • It's a startup strategy that's mostly paid off for the past decade but, as we first discussed in January, things have changed. It's like the longest-ever game of musical chairs has finally ended.
  • This is particularly true for a company like Fast, whose business was largely driven by big marketing spend.

Backstory: The Information reports that Fast originally sought to raise new funding at more than $1 billion, but investors balked. It then halved its ask and offered to lay off around 50% of its staff, but there were still no takers.

  • News of Fast's shutdown came just minutes before my Axios What's Next Summit interview with Ryan Breslow, founder and exec chairman of rival one-stop checkout company Bolt Financial. He's also been very public about his distaste for Stripe's investment in Fast. You can watch his reaction here (this video is of the whole event, so go to 5 hours, 35 minutes).
  • Affirm, the BNPL company led by Max Levchin, said it would seek to hire as "the vast majority" of Fast engineers.

The bottom line: It's been a long time since these morning missives have needed a dedicated section to track VC-backed startup layoffs and closures. We're not quite there yet, but I'm sensing it on the horizon.

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