The First Mobile-Only SaaS Company

Mobile visits account for more than 50% of all e-commerce. During the holiday season in 2014, that figure exceeded 70% for Walmart. In India, mobile usage dominates traffic to such an extent that Myntra, the largest retailer, is shutting down their web application to focus exclusively on their mobile apps. Instagram launched a website only after the mobile app reached more than 100M users.

If the consumer world is any indication of the future, we should expect to see a massively successful mobile-only SaaS company in the next few years. User preferences for simpler app UIs, the advantages of mobile app distribution through app stores and the consumerization of IT (the notion that end users now make IT purchasing decisions rather than the CIO) are three key forces creating this opportunity for startups.

In addition, there’s a fourth wave: according to Intuit research, 40% of Americans will be freelancers in Continue reading "The First Mobile-Only SaaS Company"

Jason Grill: Techweek Meet Kansas City… Kansas City Meet Techweek

Good collaborations and true "fits" are really a thing to behold in life and in business. One of those has been built in Kansas City, Missouri.

Read more: Technology, Corporations, Kansas City, Kansas City-Missouri, Missouri, Kansas, Startups, Tech, Techweek, Grants, Funding, Venture Capital, Silicon Valley, Tech Startups, Economic Development, Google, Cisco, Sprint, Garmin, H&R Block, Cerner, Technology News, Business, Business News, Small Business, Barbecue, Technology News

BitBeat: ItBit Opens Shop In U.S. As a Trust Company, Raises $25 Million


Welcome to BitBeat, the latest in cryptocurrency news and analysis, written by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey.

Crossing Our Desk:

- ItBit, a New York-based digital-currency exchange, opened its doors on Thursday to U.S. customers as a trust company. The 18-month old startup announced that it has received a trust company charter from  the New York State Department of Financial Services that will allow it to operate in all 50 states as a fully regulated financial-services entity.

That was only one of the things the company announced. ItBit also closed on a $25 million funding round, bringing its total capital raising to $32 million, and named several notable people to its board of directors, including former FDIC chairman Sheila Bair and former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley.

Taken collectively, the moves signal the start-up’s intentions to be a mainstream commercial business, and a mainstream Continue reading "BitBeat: ItBit Opens Shop In U.S. As a Trust Company, Raises $25 Million"

‘Unicorn’ Startups Say High Valuations Justified, Citing Big Growth Ahead

Instacart co-founder Apoorva Mehta said the company is building a sustainable business, and that its value will continue to grow.

Even as the herd of startups with valuations of $1 billion or more grows fatter, some investors are skeptical that this “unicorn” status is a proper scorecard.

Founders of three such companies, grocery delivery service Instacart, fast-fashion site JustFab and alternative lending service Prosper Marketplace, took the stage on Wednesday at the National Venture Capital Association conference in San Francisco to discuss the dynamics of being in such a club and whether they are in the midst of a valuation bubble.

Their short answer: No. That’s because even though valuations are inflated overall, many startups will continue to increase in value.

Instacart co-founder Apoorva Mehta along with JustFab co-founder Adam Goldenberg and Prosper Chief Executive Aaron Vermut all said they expect the Nasdaq to be lower a year

Continue reading "‘Unicorn’ Startups Say High Valuations Justified, Citing Big Growth Ahead"

a16z Podcast: Barbarians at the Gate — How to Think About Enterprise Security Today – With Gaurav Banga and Andrew Rubin


There is a shift in the way that enterprises large and small run their applications and infrastructure, and the shift is all about agility and speed. “Unfortunately, security doesn’t really like speed,” says Andrew Rubin, CEO and co-founder of cloud security startup Illumio. “The faster you go, the harder it is to understand what is happening and to protect your infrastructure.” But going slow is not an option anymore, Rubin adds. So what do you do? How do you rethink the architecture of the past to acknowledge the way business happens today? How much risk in terms of disrupting business-as-usual do you need to take in order to fend off an even greater risk to your operations?

Joining Rubin on this segment of the pod to get to those answers is another security expert, Gaurav Banga, CEO and co-founder of Bromium. If you want to start tackling the shifting landscape of business and security, “Go become a student of the economics of war and crime,” Banga says. “And go study some of the computer science behind your network.”

Former CEO Brings New App, a ‘Branchless Bank’ to Kenya

Matt Flannery, co-founder and CEO of Branch International

The former chief executive and co-founder of nonprofit lending platform, Matt Flannery, on Wednesday revealed his latest initiative Branch International Inc., which he calls “a mobile-based microfinance institution for the world.”

Branch raised $1.4 million in equity seed funding from Formation 8 and the Khosla Impact Fund.

In many ways, Branch operates like a bank in the cloud, one that is accessible not through local “branch” offices, but through a user’s smartphone. It provides small amounts of credit–up to $20–to Android users in Africa, specifically Kenya today, but doesn’t take deposits.

Branch is able to make decisions about creditworthiness without ever meeting would-be borrowers in person as many microfinance institutions must do before making loans.

Here’s how it works. A user downloads the Branch mobile app which asks them for access to Continue reading "Former CEO Brings New App, a ‘Branchless Bank’ to Kenya"

Thanks For Your Support

My favorite bike shop is not the biggest or the best stocked. It’s not the closest or even the most convenient. Their hours can be hit or miss and their inventory isn’t all that consistent.

That said, every time I need something for my bike in SF I’ll trek all the way across town to give my business to a little tiny shop called Mash Transit.

I found the store through their social media accounts and the content they generate that has nothing, and everything, to do with their retail shop. Their videos are so well done and perfectly bite sized for a world of quick shares and instant gratification. Their Instagram account is consistently cranking out images that would make anyone want to skip work to head out on a ride. Their eye for curating and collaborating with brands and tastemakers creates a kind of confidence that anything you Continue reading "Thanks For Your Support"

A Partial Defense of Our Obsession with Short-Term Earnings


Here’s a conundrum: On the one hand, there’s a consensus among thoughtful business leaders that too many companies are sacrificing long-term growth on the altar of smooth, reliable short-term earnings. On the other hand, most large sample studies in the accounting literature show something different: firms that manage their earnings perform better than firms that don’t (and not just in the short term).

HBS professor Rebecca Henderson, along with Hazhir Rahmandad of Virginia Tech and Nelson Repenning of MIT, set out to explore that apparent contradiction. I spoke with Professor Henderson about their research. What follows is an edited version of our conversation.

HBR: What got you interested in what impact short-term earnings management has on long-term performance?

Henderson: To answer that, I need to tell you about two different research interests.

For years I’ve done micro-focused research on R&D investments inside firms. One of my co-authors on the

Continue reading "A Partial Defense of Our Obsession with Short-Term Earnings"

The Technology Trends That Matter to Sales Teams


The convergence of mobile, analytics, context-rich systems, and the cloud, together with an explosion of information, is transforming sales, and enabling buyers and salespeople to engage with each other in more effective and efficient ways. Recently, information technology research and advisory company Gartner compiled a list of top 10 strategic technology trends. At least five of these trends have significant implications for sales forces, including:

1. Computing everywhere. Through the proliferation of mobile devices, buyers and salespeople can reach each other anywhere and anytime.

2. Advanced, pervasive, invisible analytics. By layering analytics seamlessly on top of linked data on customers, sales activities, and salespeople, companies can deliver the right decision assistance to the right salespeople and customers at the right time.

3. Context rich systems. Data and analytical insights can be tailored and targeted for the specific situations faced by customers and company personnel. The extreme customization aligns perfectly with

Continue reading "The Technology Trends That Matter to Sales Teams"

Wages Are Growing Faster at Larger Companies

Aside from the number of employees, are there really marked differences between big companies and small ones? Yes, according to new research from Goldman Sachs, which analyzes post-recession growth in the U.S. on either side of the 500-employee line. Not only do big companies show more ”strong revenue growth, rising employment and robust wage growth,” big companies are also outpacing their smaller counterparts in employee wage growth.



According to the paper, pay at the bigger companies outpaced compensation at the smaller ones by a cumulative six percentage points between 1996 and 2009. After that, the split grew to 14 percentage points. Goldman blames post-recession regulation.

Source: The Two-Speed Economy

Homebrew’s Second Annual LP Meeting: Why We Do Them

Last week Homebrew held its second annual LP meeting, coinciding with our second anniversary as a fund. The agenda was very similar to 2014’s, which I discussed last year in this post. Now that we’re another 365 days in, thought I’d add (a) what’s different about a Year Two annual mtg vs Year One and (b) why we think annual meetings are valuable to Homebrew.

What’s Different in Year Two

  • Follow-On Decisions Become Part of Agenda: Since a fund in Year Two is still in value creation, not harvest, mode, the trajectories of Year One investments is often more illuminating than recently funded ventures. We’ve had two second seeds, 5+ Series A and one Series B from the investments we made during the fund’s first 12 mths. Given round sizes and our average ownership of ~10%, we can very quickly end up with several million dollars invested into a single company.
    Continue reading "Homebrew’s Second Annual LP Meeting: Why We Do Them"

Why Compassion Is a Better Managerial Tactic than Toughness


Stanford University neurosurgeon Dr. James Doty tells the story of performing surgery on a little boy’s brain tumor. In the middle of the procedure, the resident who is assisting him gets distracted and accidentally pierces a vein. With blood shedding everywhere, Doty is no longer able to see the delicate brain area he is working on. The boy’s life is at stake. Doty is left with no other choice than to blindly reaching into the affected area in the hopes of locating and clamping the vein. Fortunately, he is successful.

Most of us are not brain surgeons, but we certainly are all confronted with situations in which an employee makes a grave mistake, potentially ruining a critical project.

The question is:  How should we react when an employee is not performing well or makes a mistake?

Frustration is of course the natural response — and one we all can identify with. Especially if the mistake hurts an

Continue reading "Why Compassion Is a Better Managerial Tactic than Toughness"

Feeling Old(er) at Big Omaha

For many years I was often the youngest person in the room. I started my first company at 19 and had already had several bizarre “too young” experiences by the time I was 21. I vividly remember almost losing our largest client at the time because they had taken my partner Dave out for drinks (he is three years older than me) and they somehow pried out of him that I was only 21. That generated a lot of anxiety for a week or so.

I’m at the Big Omaha Conference today for the first time. I’m a big fan of Jeff Slobotski and have been semi-gracefully dodging his invites for years. This year I thought I’d come hang out for a day. So here I am.

Last night I went to the VIP pre-opening party. I hung out and talked to some folks and then realized I was hungry.

Continue reading "Feeling Old(er) at Big Omaha"

20 VC 034: 250 Investments, AngelList Syndicates and Microsoft with Jon Staenberg


Jon Staenberg is one of the most experienced venture capitalists in the Pacific Northwest, having made over 250 startup investments and having raised two funds totaling over $100 million. Jon’s investments include the likes of AngelList, StubHub, SAPHO, KitchenBowl (through AngelList syndicates) and many more. If that wasn’t enough Jon sits on the boards of, Micropath and even owns his own vineyard! Previously, Jon worked in the marketing area at Microsoft for six years and is a Stanford alum!

Items Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Jon started off in the tech industry and then made his move into venture?

2.) Having established 5 companies, what was the hardest element of the process and how did Jon overcome it?

3.) Having invested in over 250 startups what is Jon’s investment strategy? What is Jon looking for Continue reading "20 VC 034: 250 Investments, AngelList Syndicates and Microsoft with Jon Staenberg"