Heartland Tech Weekly: How to make meaningful investments in the Midwest


Last week, venture capitalists Steve Case and J.D. Vance announced they had raised $150 million for a new seed fund for startups located in Middle America. If you read VentureBeat’s coverage on the announcement last week, you’ll know that what was most important about the announcement was not that the fund had raised $150 million, but that the $150 million had come from high-profile investors like Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt, and Meg Whitman.

Investors like Bezos, Schmidt, and Whitman can offer young startups more than just money — they can also make connections on behalf of startups to the other top investors, corporations, and talent in the country. I also discussed how investors who might want to follow in the footsteps of Bezos, Schmidt, and Whitman should do their due diligence before making the Heartland their next area of investment.

If you’re interested in learning more about the pros

Continue reading "Heartland Tech Weekly: How to make meaningful investments in the Midwest"

3 alternative funding models that could help Heartland startups


The Dow Jones may be at an all-time high, but entrepreneurial activity in the United States is close to a 40-year low. According to the Kauffman Foundation’s 2017 State of Entrepreneurship report, many startups face serious barriers because they are run by women or people of color. Geography also plays a part. According to the Economic Innovation Group, 50 percent of firms created since the great recession were built in just 5 (large, wealthy) counties.

Why? One big reason: the mathematics of venture capital.

Over the past six months, we’ve interviewed over 200 asset managers — from big university endowments to pension funds — who each manage more than $100 million. This trillion-dollar asset manager group largely ignores the typical entrepreneur, as they need to see a fund size of $100 million or more to even consider investing with a VC.

Most don’t hit that mark. We tracked over Continue reading "3 alternative funding models that could help Heartland startups"

Failure to embrace stock options is holding back Europe’s startups


While Europe’s startup ecosystem has changed dramatically over the past decade, venture capitalists are warning that entrepreneurs must do more to encourage and reward risk if they want to create the next generation of tech giants.

“One of the things holding [these entrepreneurs] back, and holding Europe back, from really building the companies the size of Amazons is attracting and retaining the right talent,” said Martin Mignot, partner at Index Ventures. “And one of the most important criteria for doing that is employee ownership.”

To underline the urgency of the situation, Index Ventures today released “Rewarding Talent,” a study that examines the use of stock options across Europe and the U.S. The report concludes that, on average, a late-stage startup in the U.S. will have distributed shares totaling about 20 percent of the company, but a European startup will have only distributed about 10 percent of its Continue reading "Failure to embrace stock options is holding back Europe’s startups"

Where venture capitalists invest and why

 Entrepreneurs looking to raise capital are often told that investors like to keep things close to home. Is that true? The question influences where people locate companies. After all, if investors are only willing to invest in their own backyard, you might be better off starting your next company as close to capital as possible. Unless, of course, the conventional wisdom is wrong. Read More

Map of Europe’s most valuable startups by country will surprise you


Europe’s tech scene is growing fast. And thanks to a new interactive map from PitchBook, we can see how the hottest company in each country compares.

The map uses data from PitchBook’s Q3 European VC Investment report.

Some of the names are familiar, including Spotify in Sweden and Deliveroo in the U.K. Indeed, Spotify tops all European startups with an $8.84 billion valuation.

But others are certainly less well known, like Auto1 Group in Germany, worth $3.26 billion based on its latest funding round, or Future Finance in Ireland, worth $236 million.

Check out the full interactive version here and see how many names you recognize.

ROSS Intelligence lands $8.7M Series A to speed up legal research with AI

 Armed with an understanding of machine learning, ROSS Intelligence is going after LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters for ownership of legal research. The startup is announcing an $8.7 million Series A today led by iNovia Capital with participation from Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund, Y Combinator Continuity Fund, Real Ventures, Dentons’ NextLaw Labs and angels. Read More

ROSS Intelligence lands $8.7M Series A to speed up legal research with AI

 Armed with an understanding of machine learning, ROSS Intelligence is going after LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters for ownership of legal research. The startup is announcing an $8.7 million Series A today led by iNovia Capital with participation from Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund, Y Combinator Continuity Fund, Real Ventures, Dentons’ NextLaw Labs and angels. Read More

ROSS Intelligence lands $8.7M Series A to speed up legal research with AI

 Armed with an understanding of machine learning, ROSS Intelligence is going after LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters for ownership of legal research. The startup is announcing an $8.7 million Series A today led by iNovia Capital with participation from Comcast Ventures Catalyst Fund, Y Combinator Continuity Fund, Real Ventures, Dentons’ NextLaw Labs and angels. Read More

Petuum secures $93M Series B to push AI into the mainstream

 With a shortage of machine learning developers bearing down on the industry, startups and big tech companies alike are moving to democratize the tools necessary to commercialize artificial intelligence. The latest startup, Petuum, is announcing a $93 million Series B this morning from Softbank and Advantech Capital. Founded last year by Dr. Eric Xing, a Carnegie Mellon machine learning… Read More

Petuum secures $93M Series B to push AI into the mainstream

 With a shortage of machine learning developers bearing down on the industry, startups and big tech companies alike are moving to democratize the tools necessary to commercialize artificial intelligence. The latest startup, Petuum, is announcing a $93 million Series B this morning from Softbank and Advantech Capital. Founded last year by Dr. Eric Xing, a Carnegie Mellon machine learning… Read More

Petuum secures $93M Series B to push AI into the mainstream

 With a shortage of machine learning developers bearing down on the industry, startups and big tech companies alike are moving to democratize the tools necessary to commercialize artificial intelligence. The latest startup, Petuum, is announcing a $93 million Series B this morning from Softbank and Advantech Capital. Founded last year by Dr. Eric Xing, a Carnegie Mellon machine learning… Read More

Texas startups report dip in venture capital funding in Q3


In what is turning out to be a roller coaster of a year for Texas, the state’s third quarter performance marks its lowest both in terms of number of deals reported and dollars raised in at least five years, according to Crunchbase data.

(Note that numbers will likely go up as more deals are reported, but are likely not significant enough to make the above statement untrue.)

Venture capitalists put $268.2 million into Texas startups across 38 known deals in the third quarter of 2017. In perspective, that is less than what was invested in all of Austin alone during the second quarter. VC funding in the Lone Star state was down a whopping 56 percent compared to the $609.7 million raised in the second quarter, and 21 percent lower versus last year’s third quarter.

Deal volume is also particularly low for Q3 2017. Between 2012 and

Continue reading "Texas startups report dip in venture capital funding in Q3"

Texas startups report dip in venture capital funding in Q3


In what is turning out to be a roller coaster of a year for Texas, the state’s third quarter performance marks its lowest both in terms of number of deals reported and dollars raised in at least five years, according to Crunchbase data.

(Note that numbers will likely go up as more deals are reported, but are likely not significant enough to make the above statement untrue.)

Venture capitalists put $268.2 million into Texas startups across 38 known deals in the third quarter of 2017. In perspective, that is less than what was invested in all of Austin alone during the second quarter. VC funding in the Lone Star state was down a whopping 56 percent compared to the $609.7 million raised in the second quarter, and 21 percent lower versus last year’s third quarter.

Deal volume is also particularly low for Q3 2017. Between 2012 and

Continue reading "Texas startups report dip in venture capital funding in Q3"

Reverse ICOs may be your best VC portfolio exit


Presented by Pathfinder Equity Systems


Depending on who you ask, IPOs have been steadily declining over the years because of regulatory tightening, increased costs, or Wall Street resistance to tech. This means less liquidity for entrepreneurs and less growth for the economy.

ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) are growing in popularity, but so far virtually all are new ventures that tend to skirt securities law. Luckily there is an entirely different type of ICO — the Reverse ICO — which is fully compliant and ideal for established companies. The first Reverse ICOs are still a few months away, but the process is quite clear.

Reverse ICOs aren’t for startups and they don’t avoid being classified as a security. Quite the opposite, they are intended for existing, successful companies and are assumed to be securities from the start, with some extra innovation sprinkled on top.

They are almost identical to traditional

Continue reading "Reverse ICOs may be your best VC portfolio exit"

Spice VC is the first to use blockchain to solve the liquidity problem


There is much talk about new forms of investment, but very little about the issues dogging the investment ecosystem over the past decade: the shrinking amount of liquidity on the exit, and the length of the illiquidity period. Spice VC wants to change that, and it is turning to the blockchain as the answer to the liquidity problem.

Today, Spice has announced the launch of the first initial coin offering (ICO) for a VC fund that can accept funds from pre-qualified investors (per country regulations, under Reg D Rule 506(c) in the U.S.), offering immediate liquidity.

“We believe the 7 to 10 years of illiquidity is the biggest limitation of VC funds and solving that has a wide effect on the economics of the industry,” Tal Elyashiv, cofounder and managing partner at Spice VC, told me. “Until now, the privilege of investing in tech was reserved for very few. Continue reading "Spice VC is the first to use blockchain to solve the liquidity problem"

Spice VC is the first to use blockchain to solve the liquidity problem


There is much talk about new forms of investment, but very little about the issues dogging the investment ecosystem over the past decade: the shrinking amount of liquidity on the exit, and the length of the illiquidity period. Spice VC wants to change that, and it is turning to the blockchain as the answer to the liquidity problem.

Today, Spice has announced the launch of the first initial coin offering (ICO) for a VC fund that can accept funds from pre-qualified investors (per country regulations, under Reg D Rule 506(c) in the U.S.), offering immediate liquidity.

“We believe the 7 to 10 years of illiquidity is the biggest limitation of VC funds and solving that has a wide effect on the economics of the industry,” Tal Elyashiv, cofounder and managing partner at Spice VC, told me. “Until now, the privilege of investing in tech was reserved for very few. Continue reading "Spice VC is the first to use blockchain to solve the liquidity problem"

5 emerging female VCs you should know about


According to a report conducted by TechCrunch, only 7 percent of partners at top VC firms are women. While there is an apparent gender divide amongst male and female VCs, a new study shows that women are better investors than men. The big investment firm Fidelity found that female investors outperformed men by 0.4 percent in the past year. The firm also discovered that female investors outdid men last year when generating a return on their investments.

Female VCs are also being recognized for bringing expansive knowledge to the world of investing due to their professional backgrounds. Many women investors also have extensive experience in PR, marketing, product management, and even retail. For example, Jessica Livingston, founding partner at Y Combinator (one of the world’s most successful startup incubators), was previously VP of marketing at the investment bank Adams Harkness, where she managed an award-winning rebranding of

Continue reading "5 emerging female VCs you should know about"

Slack confirms it has raised $250 million at $5 billion valuation amid growing competition


Workplace collaboration platform Slack has closed its long-rumored new round of funding at $250 million, led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund, as it seeks to beat back a growing list of competitors with deep pockets.

According to Bloomberg, Slack said it is still sitting on most of the $591 million it had previously raised. The latest round will give the company “operational flexibility.”

San Francisco-based Slack has been one of Silicon Valley’s hottest startups in recent years. But that success has attracted numerous competitors, including Microsoft, which launched Teams earlier this year; Atlassian, with its HipChat service workplace collaboration; Google, which launched Hangouts Chat this year; and Facebook, which is still pushing its Workplace service.

So $250 million only sounds like a lot of money until you look at those competitors’ balance sheets.

Still, according to Bloomberg, Slack has passed 9 million weekly active users and 6 million daily Continue reading "Slack confirms it has raised $250 million at $5 billion valuation amid growing competition"

Slack confirms it has raised $250 million at $5 billion valuation amid growing competition


Workplace collaboration platform Slack has closed its long-rumored new round of funding at $250 million, led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund, as it seeks to beat back a growing list of competitors with deep pockets.

According to Bloomberg, Slack said it is still sitting on most of the $591 million it had previously raised. The latest round will give the company “operational flexibility.”

San Francisco-based Slack has been one of Silicon Valley’s hottest startups in recent years. But that success has attracted numerous competitors, including Microsoft, which launched Teams earlier this year; Atlassian, with its HipChat service workplace collaboration; Google, which launched Hangouts Chat this year; and Facebook, which is still pushing its Workplace service.

So $250 million only sounds like a lot of money until you look at those competitors’ balance sheets.

Still, according to Bloomberg, Slack has passed 9 million weekly active users and 6 million daily Continue reading "Slack confirms it has raised $250 million at $5 billion valuation amid growing competition"