TechCrunch Conversations: Direct listings

Last April, Spotify surprised Wall Street bankers by choosing to go public through a direct listing process rather than through a traditional IPO. Instead of issuing new shares, the company simply sold existing shares held by insiders, employees and investors directly to the market – bypassing the roadshow process and avoiding at least some of Wall […]

Last April, Spotify surprised Wall Street bankers by choosing to go public through a direct listing process rather than through a traditional IPO. Instead of issuing new shares, the company simply sold existing shares held by insiders, employees and investors directly to the market – bypassing the roadshow process and avoiding at least some of Wall Street’s fees. That pattens is set to continue in 2019 as Silicon Valley darlings Slack and Airbnb take the direct listing approach.

Have we reached a new normal where tech companies choose to test their own fate and disrupt the traditional capital markets process?  This week, we asked a panel of six experts on IPOs and direct listings: “What are the implications of direct listing tech IPOs for financial services, regulation, venture capital, and capital markets activity?” 

This week’s participants include: IPO researcher Jay R. Ritter (University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business), Spotify’s CFO Barry McCarthy, fintech venture capitalist Josh Kuzon (Reciprocal Ventures), IPO attorney Eric Jensen (Cooley LLP), research analyst Barbara Gray, CFA (Brady Capital Research), and capital markets advisor Graham A. Powis (Brookline Capital Markets).

TechCrunch is experimenting with new content forms. Consider this a recurring venue for debate, where leading experts – with a diverse range of vantage points and opinions – provide us with thoughts on some of the biggest issues currently in tech, startups and venture. If you have any feedback, please reach out: Arman.Tabatabai@techcrunch.com.


Thoughts & Responses:


Jay R. Ritter

Jay Ritter is the Cordell Eminent Scholar at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business. He is the world’s most-cited academic expert on IPOs. His analysis of the Google IPO is available here.

In April last year, Spotify stock started to trade without a formal IPO, in what is known as a direct listing. The direct listing provided liquidity for shareholders, but unlike most traditional IPOs, did not raise any money for the company. Slack has announced that they will also conduct a direct listing, and it is rumored that some of the other prominent unicorns are considering doing the same.

Although no equity capital is raised by the company in a direct listing, after trading is established the company could do a follow-on offering to raise money. The big advantage of a direct listing is that it reduces the two big costs of an IPO—the direct cost of the fees paid to investment bankers, which are typically 7% of the proceeds for IPOs raising less than $150 million, and the indirect cost of selling shares at an offer price less than what the stocks subsequently trades at, which adds on another 18%, on average. For a unicorn in which the company and existing shareholders sell $1 billion in a traditional IPO using bookbuilding, the strategy of a direct listing and subsequent follow-on offering could net the company and selling shareholders an extra $200 million.

Direct listings are not the only way to reduce the direct and indirect costs of going public. Starting twenty years ago, when Ravenswood Winery went public in 1999, some companies have gone public using an auction rather than bookbuilding. Prominent companies that have used an auction include Google, Morningstar, and Interactive Brokers Group. Auctions, however, have not taken off, in spite of lower fees and less underpricing. The last few years no U.S. IPO has used one.

Traditional investment banks view direct listings and auction IPOs as a threat. Not only are the fees that they receive lower, but the investment bankers can no longer promise underpriced shares to their hedge fund clients. Issuing firms and their shareholders are the beneficiaries when direct listings are used.

If auctions and direct listings are so great, why haven’t more issuers used them? One important reason is that investment banks typically bundle analyst coverage with other business. If a small company hires a top investment bank such as Credit Suisse to take them public with a traditional IPO, Credit Suisse is almost certainly going to have its analyst that covers the industry follow the stock, at least for a while. Many companies have discovered, however, that if the company doesn’t live up to expectations, the major investment banks are only too happy to drop coverage a few years later. In contrast, an analyst at a second-tier investment bank, such as William Blair, Raymond James, Jefferies, Stephens, or Stifel, is much more likely to continue to follow the company for many years if the investment bank had been hired for the IPO. In my opinion, the pursuit of coverage from analysts at the top investment banks has discouraged many companies from bucking the system. The prominent unicorns, however, will get analyst coverage no matter what method they use or which investment banks they hire.


Barry McCarthy

Barry McCarthy is the Chief Financial Officer of Spotify. Prior to joining Spotify, Mr. McCarthy was a private investor and served as a board member for several major public and private companies, including Spotify, Pandora and Chegg. McCarthy also serves as an Executive Adviser to Technology Crossover Ventures and previously served as the Chief Financial Officer and Principal Accounting Officer of Netflix.

If we take a leap of faith and imagine that direct listings become an established alternative to the traditional IPO process, then we can expect:

  1. Financing costs to come down – The overall “cost” of the traditional IPO process will come down, in order to compete with the lower cost alternative (lower underwriting fees and no IPO discount) of a direct listing.
  2. The regulatory framework to remain unchanged – No change was / is required in federal securities laws, which already enable the direct listing process. With the SEC’s guidance and regulatory oversight, Spotify repurposed an existing process for direct listings – we didn’t invent a new one.

  3. A level playing field for exits – Spotify listed without the traditional 180 day lock-up. In order to compete with direct listings, traditional IPOs may eliminate the lock-up (and the short selling hedge funds do into the lock-up expiry).

  4. Financing frequency; right church, wrong pew – Regardless of what people tell you, an IPO is just another financing event. But you don’t need to complete a traditional IPO anymore if you want to sell equity. Conventional wisdom says you do, but I think conventional wisdom is evolving with the realities of the marketplace. Here’s how we’d do it at Spotify if we needed to raise additional equity capital. We’d execute a secondary or follow-on transaction, pay a 1% transaction fee and price our shares at about a 4% discount to the closing price on the day we priced our secondary offering. This is much less expensive “financing” than a traditional IPO with underwriter fees ranging from 3-7% (larger deals mean smaller fees) and the underwriter’s discount of ~36% to the full conviction price for the offering. You simply uncouple the going public event from the money raising event.


Josh Kuzon

Josh Kuzon is a Partner at Reciprocal Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm based in NYC focused on FinTech and blockchain. An expert in payments and banking systems, Josh is focused on backing the next generation of FinTech companies across payments, credit, financial infrastructure, and financial management software.

I think the implications of direct listing tech IPOs are positive for venture capitalists, as it creates a channel for efficient exits. However, the threat of low liquidity from a direct listing is significant and may ultimately outweigh the benefits for the listing company. 

Direct listing tech IPOs offers a compelling model for company employees and existing investors in pursuit of a liquidity event. The model features a non-dilutive, no lock-up period, and underwriting fee-less transaction, which is a short-term benefit of the strategy. Additionally, as a publicly traded company, there are longer-term benefits in being able to access public markets for financing, using company stock to pay for acquisitions, and potentially broaden global awareness of an organization. However, these benefits come with tradeoffs that should not be overlooked. 

One concern is the circular problem of liquidity. Without a defined supply of stock, it can be difficult to generate meaningful buyside demand. A floating price and indeterminate quantity will dampen institutional interest, no matter how great the listing company may be. Institutions require size and certainty; not only do they desire to build large positions, but they need to know they can exit them if needed. Without consistent institutional bids, sellers are less motivated to unwind their stakes, for fear of volatility and soft prices.

I believe institutional investors and their brokers are crucial ingredients for a properly functioning public equities market structure. They help make markets more liquid and efficient and serve as a check on companies to drive better business outcomes for their shareholders. A lack of institutional investors could be a very expensive long-term tradeoff for a short-term gain.

For companies that have significant brand awareness, don’t need to raise additional capital, or already have a diverse institutional investor base, the direct listing model may work out well for them. Few companies, however, fit this profile. Many more will likely have to work a lot harder to persuade the capital markets to participate in a direct listing and even if successful, may ultimately come back to bite them as they evolve and require additional capital markets cooperation.


Eric Jensen

Eric Jensen is a partner at Cooley LLP. He advises leading technology entrepreneurs, venture funds and investment banks in formation, financing, capital market and M&A transactions, and in in the past seven years was involved in over 55 offerings, raising over $21 billion, for companies such as Appian, Atlassian, Alteryx, Avalara, DocuSign, FireEye, Forty Seven, LinkedIn, MongoDB, NVIDIA, Redfin, SendGrid, ServiceNow, Tenable, Zendesk, Zulilly and Zynga.

It is challenging to draw market lessons from a single completed “direct listing.” The degree of interest I am seeing, often without folks knowing what it means, shows that the IPO model has issues. So first I describe to a client what it means – an IPO without the “I” and the “O”, meaning you are not selling any stock and therefore you don’t have a set initial stock price. These factors mean that a direct listing is relevant only for a small subset of private companies – those that:

  1. Sold stock to a number of institutional buyers that are likely to hold or increase their interest once trading begins;
  2. Are large enough (and didn’t restrict transfers) such that an active trading market developed as a private company, to be used as a proxy for the public trading price;
  3. Don’t need to raise primary capital, and
  4. Want to make their mark by doing something different, at the expense of placing IPO stock in the hands of new investors they have selected.

There is no evidence to indicate that it accelerates public market access, any company that can do a direct listing could do an IPO. The SEC doesn’t go away, and compared to the highly tuned IPO process, SEC scrutiny is actually higher. As least based on Spotify, it doesn’t put investment bankers out of a job, nor does it dramatically reduce total transactions costs. Spotify had no lock-up agreement, so the VCs I know love this feature, but it is not inherent in a direct listing, and IPOs don’t require lock-ups.

In my book, too soon to tell if it is the reverse Dutch Auction of its day.


Barbara Gray

Barbara Gray, CFA is a former top-ranked sell-side Equity Analyst and the Founder of Brady Capital Research Inc., a leading-edge investment research firm focused on structural disruption. She is also the author of the books Secrets of the Amazon 2.0, Secrets of the Amazon and Ubernomics.

Although Spotify successfully broke free of its reins last April and entered the public arena unescorted, I expect most unicorns will still choose to pay the fat underwriting fees to be paraded around by investment bankers. 

Realistically, the direct listing route is most suitable for companies meeting the following three criteria: 1) consumer-facing with strong brand equity; 2) easy-to-understand business model; and 3) no need to raise capital. Even if a company meets this criteria, the “escorted” IPO route could provide a positive return on investment as the IPO roadshow is designed to provide a valuation uptick through building awareness and preference versus competitive offerings by enabling a company to: a) reach and engage a larger investment pool; b) optimally position its story; and c) showcase its skilled management team.

Although the concept of democratizing capital markets by providing equal access to all investors is appealing, if a large institution isn’t able to get an IPO allocation, they may be less willing to build up a meaningful position in the aftermarket. The direct listings option also introduces a higher level of pricing risk and volatility as the opening price and vulnerable early trading days of the stock are left to the whims of the market. Unlike with an IPO, with benefits of stabilizing bids and 90 to 180 days lock-up agreements prohibiting existing investors from selling their shares, a flood of sellers could hit the market.


Graham Powis

Graham A. Powis is Senior Capital Markets Advisor at Brookline Capital Markets, a division of CIM Securities, LLC. Brookline is a boutique investment bank that provides a comprehensive suite of capital markets and advisory services to the healthcare industry. Mr. Powis previously held senior investment banking positions at BTIG, Lazard and Cowen.

While Spotify’s direct listing in 2018 and recent reports that Slack is considering a direct listing in 2019 have heightened curiosity around this approach to “going public,” we expect that most issuers in the near-to medium-term will continue to pursue a traditional IPO path. Potential benefits of a direct listing include the avoidance of further dilution to existing holders and underwriter fees. However, large, high-profile and well-financed corporations, most often in the technology and consumer sectors, are the companies typically best-suited to pursue these direct listings. By contrast, smaller companies seeking to raise capital alongside an exchange listing, and with an eye on overcoming challenges in attracting interest from the investing public, will continue to follow a well-established IPO process.

A case in point is the healthcare segment of the US IPO market, which has accounted for one-third of all US IPO activity over the last five years. The healthcare vertical tilts toward small unprofitable companies with significant capital needs and, as a result, direct listings aren’t likely to become a popular choice in that industry. Since 2014, unprofitable companies have accounted for more than 90% of all healthcare IPOs completed. Furthermore, the biotechnology subsector has been by far the most active corner of the healthcare IPO market, and biotechnology companies are voracious consumers of capital. Finally, healthcare IPOs tend to be relatively small: since 2014, healthcare IPO issuers have raised, on average, only 47% of the amount raised by non-healthcare issuers, and more than half have already returned to the market at least once for additional capital.

Privacy campaigner Schrems slaps Amazon, Apple, Netflix, others with GDPR data access complaints

European privacy campaigner Max Schrems has filed a fresh batch of strategic complaints at tech giants, including Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Spotify and YouTube. The complaints, filed via his non-profit privacy and digital rights organization, noyb, relate to how the services respond to data access requests, per regional data protection rules. Article 15 of Europe’s General […]

European privacy campaigner Max Schrems has filed a fresh batch of strategic complaints at tech giants, including Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Spotify and YouTube.

The complaints, filed via his non-profit privacy and digital rights organization, noyb, relate to how the services respond to data access requests, per regional data protection rules.

Article 15 of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides for a right of access by the data subject to information held on them.

The complaints contend tech firms are structurally violating this right — having built automated systems to respond to data access requests which, after being tested by noyb, failed to provide the user with all the relevant information they are legally entitled to.

noyb tested eight companies in all, in eight different countries in Europe, and says it found none of the services provided a satisfactory response. It’s filed formal complaints with the Austrian Data Protection Authority against the eight, which also include music and podcast platform SoundCloud; sports streaming service DAZN; and video on-demand platform Flimmit .

The complaints have been filed on behalf of ten users, per Article 80 of the GDPR which enables data subjects to be represented by a non-profit association such as noyb.

Here’s its breakdown of the responses its tests received — including the maximum potential penalty each could be on the hook for if the complaints are stood up:

Two of the companies, DAZN and SoundCloud, failed to respond at all, according to noyb. While the rest responded with only partial data.

noyb points out that in addition to getting raw data users have the right to know the sources, recipients and purposes for which their information is being processed. But only Flimmit and Netflix provided any background information (though again still not full data) in response to the test requests.

“Many services set up automated systems to respond to access requests, but they often don’t even remotely provide the data that every user has a right to,” said Schrems in a statement. “In most cases, users only got the raw data, but, for example, no information about who this data was shared with. This leads to structural violations of users’ rights, as these systems are built to withhold the relevant information.”

We’ve reached out to the companies for comment on the complaints.

Last May, immediately after Europe’s new privacy regulation came into force, noyb lodged its first series of strategic complaints — targeted at what it dubbed “forced consent”, arguing that Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Google’s Android OS do not give users a free choice to consent to processing their data for ad targeting, as consenting is required to use the service.

Investigations by a number of data protection authorities into those complaints remain ongoing.

Netflix thinks ‘Fortnite’ is a bigger threat than HBO

Netflix thinks “Fortnite” is a bigger threat to its business than HBO. The company in its latest quarterly earnings report released on Thursday said that while its streaming service now accounts for around 10 percent of TV screen time in the U.S., it no longer views its competition only as those services also providing TV […]

Netflix thinks “Fortnite” is a bigger threat to its business than HBO. The company in its latest quarterly earnings report released on Thursday said that while its streaming service now accounts for around 10 percent of TV screen time in the U.S., it no longer views its competition only as those services also providing TV content and streaming video.

“We compete with (and lose to) ‘Fortnite more than HBO,” the company’s shareholder letter stated. “When YouTube went down globally for a few minutes in October, our viewing and signups spiked for that time…There are thousands of competitors in this highly-fragmented market vying to entertain consumers and low barriers to entry for those with great experiences.”

In other words, Netflix today sees its competition as anyone in the business of entertaining their customers, and eating up their hours of free time in the process. That includes breakout gaming hits like “Fortnite.”

Netflix’s statement comes at a time when the internet, mobile and gaming have been shifting consumer’s focus and attention away from watching TV.

In fact, all the way back in 2012, mobile industry experts were warning that time spent in mobile apps was beginning to challenge television. And a few years ago, apps finally came out on top. For the first time ever, time spent inside apps exceeded that of TV.

Fortnite, in particular, has capitalized on this change in consumer behavior and has now grown to over 200 million players. (Netflix just reached 139 million, for comparison’s sake.)

In 2018, Fortnite – along with other multiplayer games like PUBG – pushed forward a trend toward cross-platform gaming that’s capable of reaching consumers wherever they are, similar to streaming apps like Netflix. According to a recent report from App Annie, this is just the tip of the iceberg, too. Cross-platform gaming, including not only Fortnite and PUBG, but also whatever comes next – is poised to grow even further in 2019.

Notably, Fortnite, too, has become a place where you don’t just go to play – but rather “hang out.” For kids and young adults, the game has replaced the mall or other parts of the city where kids and teens just go to be around friends and socialize, wrote tech writer Owen Williams, recently, on his blog Charged.

“Not only is Fortnite the new hangout spot, replacing the mall, Starbucks or just loitering in the city, it’s become the coveted ‘third place’ for millions of people around the world,” he said.

Roblox, with it over 70 million players, serves a similar purpose.

That means it’s also a real threat to Netflix’s time. If gamers are hanging around a virtual space with friends, they have less time to stream TV. (And perhaps – given that many of the youngest Netflix never got cable to begin with – less desire to watch TV to begin with.)

“I think about it really is as winning time away, entertainment time from other activities,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on Thursday, discussing the threat from those competing for users’ time. “So, instead of doing Xbox or Fortnite or youTube or HBO or a long list, we want to win and provide a better experience. No advertising on demand. Incredible content,” he said.

Netflix adds 8.8M paid subscribers globally, says it now accounts for 10 percent of U.S. TV screen time

Netflix just released its fourth quarter earnings report, which looks mixed compared to Wall Street expectations. The company added 8.8 million subscribers, well above the 7.6 million that it had predicted at the beginning of the quarter. It also beat estimates for earnings per share — analysts had predicted EPS of 24 cents, but actual […]

Netflix just released its fourth quarter earnings report, which looks mixed compared to Wall Street expectations.

The company added 8.8 million subscribers, well above the 7.6 million that it had predicted at the beginning of the quarter. It also beat estimates for earnings per share — analysts had predicted EPS of 24 cents, but actual EPS came in at 30 cents. However, revenue was a bit lower than expected — $4.19 billion, compared to predictions of $4.21 billion.

As of 4:50pm Eastern, Netflix shares were down about 2 percent in after hours trading.

The investor letter also includes viewership numbers for several popular titles, including “Bird Box,” which the company says will be viewed by more than 80 million households in its first four weeks (45 million accounts streamed the movie in its first week, setting a record for Netflix). It also says that “You” and “Sex Education” are on-track to be viewed by more than 40 million households in their first four weeks on the service.

And these aren’t just people accidentally tuning in for a few seconds — Netflix says it only counts someone as a viewer of they watch at least 70 percent of a movie or an episode.

The letter emphasizes the popularity of these original shows and movies as a way of suggesting that Netflix isn’t reliant on outside studios for its content and continued success.

“As a result of our success with original content, we’re becoming less focused on 2nd run programming,” it says, noting that Netflix originals now account for the majority of unscripted viewing on the service. “We are ready to pay top-of-market prices for second run content when the studios, networks and producers are willing to sell, but we are also prepared to keep our members ecstatic with our incredible original content if others choose to retain their content for their own services.”

Later, the letter returns to the theme of growing competition in the streaming world, claiming that Netflix currently accounts for 100 million hours of viewing per day on U.S. TV screens — which it estimates to be 10 percent of the total. It also suggests that it’s going up against a “very broad set of competitors”: “We compete with (and lose to) ‘Fortnite’ more than HBO.”

“Our focus is not on Disney+ or Amazon, but on how we can improve our experience for our members,” the company says.

Steve Carell is coming to Netflix in a new comedy about the US government’s new Space Force

Steve Carell is coming back to small-screen comedy for a new Netflix series about the people tasked with creating the “Space Force” — the proposed sixth branch of the military. Details about the new show from Carell and Greg Daniels, who was the mind behind the American version of “The Office,” are sketchy. Netflix hasn’t […]

Steve Carell is coming back to small-screen comedy for a new Netflix series about the people tasked with creating the “Space Force” — the proposed sixth branch of the military.

Details about the new show from Carell and Greg Daniels, who was the mind behind the American version of “The Office,” are sketchy. Netflix hasn’t given any specifics about the number of episodes or potential release date.

What’s certain is that this Space Force is less likely to draw criticism and condemnation than the real proposal put forward by President Donald Trump last year.

Vice President Pence announced that the Space Force would make its debut in 2020. That could be well after Netflix gets the Carell series up and running.

The Space Force project marks the second series Carell has signed on to do with a streaming service provider. He’s also on board for the Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon-led ensemble drama about a morning TV show.

Netflix Increases U.S. Subscription Prices, Here Are The Revised Plans

Netflix has to pay for all that amazing first-party content somehow, and the company has today announced that it will be increasing the price of every subscription tier for its U.S. customers. [ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

Netflix has to pay for all that amazing first-party content somehow, and the company has today announced that it will be increasing the price of every subscription tier for its U.S. customers.


[ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

Netflix Hikes Subscription Prices… Again

Netflix is raising its prices again, and this time it’s the biggest price hike in Netflix’s history. Netflix hasn’t officially explained its reasons for raising prices, but the streaming service produces more original content than ever, and that isn’t cheap. Netflix Raises Prices to Pay for Change Netflix has evolved massively over the years. It once focused on sending DVDs through the mail, but now that’s a small part of its business. It has also switched from delivering old content for people to rewatch to delivering new content exclusive to Netflix. To deliver these changes Netflix has had to raise…

Read the full article: Netflix Hikes Subscription Prices… Again

Netflix is raising its prices again, and this time it’s the biggest price hike in Netflix’s history. Netflix hasn’t officially explained its reasons for raising prices, but the streaming service produces more original content than ever, and that isn’t cheap.

Netflix Raises Prices to Pay for Change

Netflix has evolved massively over the years. It once focused on sending DVDs through the mail, but now that’s a small part of its business. It has also switched from delivering old content for people to rewatch to delivering new content exclusive to Netflix.

To deliver these changes Netflix has had to raise its prices regularly. Its most recent price hike was in 2017, when the Standard and Premium plans both became more expensive. Now, all three of Netflix’s subscription plans are going up in price.

How Much Is Netflix Raising Prices By?

According to the Associated Press, Netflix is raising its prices by between 13 percent and 18 percent, depending on which subscription plan you’re on. This represents the biggest price increase Netflix has enacted since launching its streaming service.

The Basic plan (SD on one device) jumps from $7.99/month to $8.99/month. The Standard plan (HD on two devices) jumps from $10.99/month to $12.99/month. And the Premium plan (4K on four devices), jumps from $13.99/month to $15.99/month.

Everyone in the U.S. and most of Latin America will be hit with the price rises, as it’s set to affect everyone who Netflix bills in U.S. dollars. New subscribers will be hit immediately, with the price increases rolling out to existing subscribers over the next few months.

Are Netflix’s Price Hikes Justified?

In a statement, Netflix said, “We change pricing from time to time as we continue investing in great entertainment and improving the overall Netflix experience”. The question is whether subscribers will be happy to pay extra for the original content.

While Netflix’s price hikes are currently limited to the U.S. and its close neighbors, the chances are other countries will follow. We’ve previously argued that you should be happy to pay more for Netflix, but the higher the prices climb, the harder they are to justify.

Image Credit: Marco Verch/Flickr

Read the full article: Netflix Hikes Subscription Prices… Again

Netflix raises Standard plan from $11 to $13 a month, Basic & Premium get a price hike too

The new rate hikes constitute a jump of between 13 and 18 percent, which files as the company’s biggest increase since launching the popular video-streaming service twelve years ago.

Netflix has raised prices again: the Basic tier went from $8 to 9 per month, the Standard tier increased from $11 to $13 per month and the Premium tier jumped from $14 to $16 per month.... Read the rest of this post here


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Netflix will raise prices for US subscribers, with its most popular plan going up to $13 per month

Netflix is raising fees for U.S. subscribers in its biggest price increase since the company first launched its streaming service 12 years ago. Depending on your plan, the cost will go up increase by 13 percent to 18 percent. For the most popular plan (which includes high-definition streaming for up to two devices simultaneously), the […]

Netflix is raising fees for U.S. subscribers in its biggest price increase since the company first launched its streaming service 12 years ago.

Depending on your plan, the cost will go up increase by 13 percent to 18 percent. For the most popular plan (which includes high-definition streaming for up to two devices simultaneously), the price will increase from $10.99 to $12.99 per month. Meanwhile, the one-device plan will go up to $8.99 per month, while the four-device plan goes to $15.99.

“We change pricing from time to time as we continue investing in great entertainment and improving the overall Netflix experience for the benefit of our members,” the company said in a statement.

Netflix raised prices last year for its higher-tier plans, but kept the cheapest plan at $7.99 per month. So today’s news marks the first time since the plan launched in 2010 it’s becoming more expensive.

When can you expect to see your bill increase? The exact timing will depend on your billing cycle, but it sounds like the changes are going effect quickly. This also applies to Latin American and Caribbean markets where Netflix bills in U.S. dollars, but not in Mexico and Brazil.

It seemed inevitable that Netflix would have to raise prices to fund its continually growing bill for original content. Meanwhile, companies like Disney, AT&T/WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal all plan to launch competing services, which probably means they’ll be less interested in licensing their content to Netflix, and will charge a heftier fee when they do.

At the same time, a price increase risks driving away U.S. subscribers at a time when Netflix may have largely tapped out the domestic market (its real growth opportunities seem to be overseas).

Wall Street is pleased with the news, with Netflix shares up 5.8 percent as of 10:15am Eastern.

Hulu unexpectedly releases “Fyre Fraud” days before Netflix’s competing documentary

Not since the literary biopic showdown between “Capote” and “Infamous” has there been such an intense battle for the attention of viewers. This time, the fight is between Hulu and Netflix’s competing documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, a 2017 music festival whose failure led to eight lawsuits and a six-year prison sentence for co-founder […]

Not since the literary biopic showdown between “Capote” and “Infamous” has there been such an intense battle for the attention of viewers. This time, the fight is between Hulu and Netflix’s competing documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, a 2017 music festival whose failure led to eight lawsuits and a six-year prison sentence for co-founder Billy McFarland. Hulu unexpectedly released its film, “Fyre Fraud” today, just four days before Netflix’s “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” was scheduled to premiere. Both films are helmed by award-winning filmmakers.

Entertainment Today reports that Hulu hopes its documentary, directed by Emmy-nominated, Peabody-winning filmmaking team Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason “will provide enlightening context ahead of [co-executive producer Elliot] Tebele’s Netflix documentary.”

“Fyre Fraud” contains exclusive interviews with McFarland, who co-founded Fyre with rapper Ja Rule, and people who used to work for Tebele’s marketing agency FuckJerry, one of the festival’s promoters. Some of Tebele’s former employees claim in “Fyre Fraud” that Tebele asked them to cover up early warning signs about the festival.

McFarland was later sentenced six years to jail in for defrauding investors, while Ja Rule is fighting to be removed as a defendant from a $100 million class action lawsuit. Attendees paid thousands of dollars for tickets, expecting a luxury music festival in the Bahamas, but instead found themselves staying in tents, no Internet service, no water, and food like processed cheese sandwiches. Delayed flights made the experience even more nightmarish, as guests were forced to wait hours in the heat for their charter flights back to Miami.

In response, the makers of Netflix’s “Frye,” directed by Chris Smith (whose “American Movie” won the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 1999), told Entertainment Weekly that even though they worked with Tebele and Jerry Media (a FuckJerry brand), “at no time did they, or any others we worked with, request favorable coverage in our film, which would be against our ethics. We stand behind our film, believe it is an unbiased and illuminating look at what happened, and look forward to sharing it with audiences around the world.”

Smith told Entertainment Weekly earlier this week that McFarland wasn’t included in the documentary because he “wanted to get paid” for appearing and “we didn’t feel comfortable with him benefitting after so many people were hurt as a consequence of his actions.”

TechCrunch has contacted Netflix and Hulu for comment.