Don’t be surprised that Quibi failed


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om

Quibi, a mobile-first video startup primarily known for being an extremely well-funded pet project of woefully out-of-touch co-founders Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, is shutting down. Born in February 2020 in the middle of a pandemic, Quibi didn’t even last a whole year. The only reasonable response to the company’s ultimate failure is to ask: Is anyone surprised?

In case you missed Quibi (which, frankly, is quite possible), here is a quick refresher: It was a service that signed up many famous people and content creators to make shows lasting between 5 and 10 minutes. It wanted to compete with YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. It tried to be the next Netflix. 

Katzenberg, a former Walt Disney executive and co-founder of Dreamworks, and Whitman, the former CEO of eBay and HP, raised almost $2 billion from many show business and telecom investors. As someone who has been around the technology industry as long as I have been, those two specific sets of investors in the same cap table, my initial instinct is to run for the exits. Many venture firms in Silicon Valley didn’t think much about the company and its prospects, as one can see from its cap table.

(Here is a small side note: No top Silicon Valley venture investors were involved in Theranos or Nikola, another recent hot mess. There is a lesson somewhere in here, and something to pay attention to when it comes to sifting through the blivet of SPACS currently hitting the market.) 

Back to Quibi. In a letter sent to the company and its investors, the co-founders wrote: “Quibi is not succeeding. Likely for one of two reasons: because the idea itself wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing.” Let me put this in the kindest terms: Quibi was trying to solve a problem that no one had — and certainly weren’t going to pay $5-a-month to address. The company got somewhere between 400,000 to 500,000 subscribers, which is not bad. However, that initial target was over 7 million subscribers, so clearly, they fell short of their own goals.

Quibi’s failure reminds me of another hotshot startup that launched with much fanfare: Color. It also gained infamy for the amount of venture capital raised. Despite $41 million from Sequoia Capital, it flopped and vanished into the mists of time. It prompted me to write a piece that I called “Money can’t buy you love: why some apps work and some don’t.” 

In March 2011, I wrote, “The Color app faces the same challenge as many of today’s mobile apps: How can it earn a user’s attention in a world that is increasingly crowded with options? In fact, you can extend that argument to any consumer service: new appliances, new devices, and media entities new and old.” 

You could replace “Color” with “Quibi,” and leave the rest unchanged. Eight years later, the market is even more crowded. Incumbents are more entrenched, and they control our attention with the ruthlessness of a boarding school warden. The only company in recent memory that was able to stand out is TikTok, which succeeded by spending billions on advertising. In doing so, they have become such a threat to Facebook that Mark Zuckerberg feels no shame in asking the president to play political foosball with them. 

I was looking back at my piece on Color, and I realized that many of the apps and services that grabbed my attention back then didn’t actually manage to keep it that long. Nimbuzz, Evernote, Instapaper, and PicPlz all made a pitstop on the attention freeway, but where are they now? Instapaper was terrific as long as the founder stayed on board. Ditto with Evernote. Of the applications I used to use back in 2011, only Spotify has thrived — and Daniel Ek is still in charge. 

It doesn’t matter how much money a company raises or what valuation it gets. What makes services/apps work and get our attention? They either bring happiness, utility, or both. Value, not valuations is what makes a business work.

Take it from the old me from 2011: “Put all the things that are part of your daily routine into these two buckets — happiness and utility — and you will see it for yourself that in the end, those two are the driving forces behind a successful app, service, device or media property.” 

October 21, 2020, San Francisco

True Fit: Defining Problems and Achieving Success


This post is by blau@georgianpartners.com from Georgian

In this video, Jessica Murphy, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer at True Fit, talks about how True Fit collaborated with Georgian’s R&D team.

The post True Fit: Defining Problems and Achieving Success appeared first on Georgian.

Quibi’s Short Life and Sudden Death: The Information’s Tech Briefing


This post is by The Information Staff from The Information

The sudden death of Quibi, the short-form video streaming service launched by Hollywood veteran Jeffrey Katzenberg six months ago, is sure to generate plenty of “I-told-you-so’s” from people in the entertainment and tech industries. For weeks, we’ve been hearing from senior entertainment executives that Quibi’s troubles were entirely predictable, based on the flawed nature of the concept.

It’s hard to argue with them. Perhaps Katzenberg didn’t fully understand the market he was aiming for. To his credit though, he was willing to put his reputation on the line to try something new. That’s something the big entertainment companies aren’t known for.

This former Tesla CIO just raised $150 million more to pull car dealers into the 21st century


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by Connie Loizos. The original is [linked here]

“I have to choose my words carefully,” says Joe Castelino of Stevens Creek Volkswagen in San Jose, Ca., when asked about the software on which most car dealerships rely for inventory information, to manage marketing, to handle customer relationships and to otherwise help sell cars.

Castelino, the dealership’s service director, laughs as he says this. But the joke has apparently been on car dealers, most of whom have largely relied on a few frustratingly antiquated vendors for their dealer management systems over the years — along with many more sophisticated point solutions.

It’s the precise opportunity that former Tesla CIO, Jay Vijayan, concluded he was well-positioned to address while still in the employ of the electric vehicle giant.

As Vijayan tells it, he knew nothing about cars until joining Tesla in 2011, following a dozen years of working in product development at Oracle, then VMWare. Yet he learned plenty over the subsequent four years. Specifically, he says he helped to build with Elon Musk a central analysis system inside Tesla, a kind of brain that could see all of the company’s internal systems, from what was happening in the supply chain to its factory systems to its retail platform.

Tesla had to build it itself, says Vijayan; after evaluating the existing software of third company providers, the team “realized that none of them had anything close to what we needed to provide a frictionless modern consumer experience.”

It was around then that a lightbulb turned on. If Tesla could transform the experience for its own customers, maybe Vijayan could transform the buying and selling experience for the much bigger, broader automotive industry. Enter Tekion, a now four-year-old, San Carlos, Ca., company that now employs 470 people and has come far enough along that just attracted $150 million in fresh funding led by the private equity investor Advent International.

With the Series C round — which also included checks from Index Ventures, Airbus Ventures, FM Capital and Exor, the holding company of Fiat-Chrysler and Ferrari — the company has now raised $185 million altogether. It’s also valued at north of $1 billion. (The automakers General Motors, BMW, and the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance are also investors.)

Eric Wei, a managing director at Advent, says that over the last decade, his team had been eager to seize on what’s approaching a $10 billion market annually. Instead, they found themselves tracking incumbents Reynolds & Reynolds, CDKGlobal and Dealertrack, which is owned by Cox Automotive, and waiting for a better player to emerge.

Then Wei was connected to Tekion through Jon McNeill, a former Tesla president and an advisory partner to Advent.

Says Wei of seeing its tech compared with its more established rivals: “It was like comparing a flip phone to an iPhone.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, McNeill, who worked at Tesla with Vijayan, also sings the company’s praises, noting that Tekion even bought a dealership in Gilroy — the “garlic capital” of California — to use as a kind of lab while it was building its technology from scratch.

Such praise is nice, but more importantly, Tekion is attracting the attention of dealers. Though citing competitive reasons, Vijayan declined to share how many have bought its cloud software —  which connects dealers with both manufacturers and car buyers and is powered by machine learning algorithms — he says it’s already being used across 28 states.

One of these dealerships is the national chain Serra Automotive, whose founder, Joseph Serra, is now an investor in Tekion.

Another is that Volkswagen dealership in San Jose, where Castelino — who doesn’t have a financial interest in Tekion — speaks enthusiastically about the time and expenses his team is saving because of Tekion’s platform.

For example, he says a customers need only log-in now to flag a particular issue. After that, with the help of an RFID tag, Stevens Creek knows exactly when that customer pulls into the dealership and what kind of help they need, enabling people to greet him or her on arrival. Tekion can also make recommendations based on a car’s history. It might, for instance, suggest to a customer a brake fluid flush “without an advisor having to look through a customer’s history,” he says.

As important, he says, the dealership has been able to cut ties with a lot of other software vendors, while also making more productive use of its time. Says Castelino, “As soon as a [repair order] is live, it’s in a dispatcher’s hand and a technician can grab the car.”

It’s like that with every step, he insists. “You’re saving 15 minutes again and again, and suddenly, you have three hours where your intake can be higher.”

Triangle VCs embrace Zoom to keep deals on track, but the fatigue is real – Triangle Business Journal


This post is by "Venture Capital" - Google News from "Venture Capital" - Google News

Triangle VCs embrace Zoom to keep deals on track, but the fatigue is real  Triangle Business Journal

Airbnb Hires Jony Ive for Design Consulting


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by John Gruber. The original is [linked here]

Zoë Bernard and Cory Weinberg, reporting for The Information:

Airbnb has hired famed former Apple designer Jony Ive as a
creative consultant ahead of its initial public offering, CEO
Brian Chesky said Wednesday. The hire is the most significant in a
series of moves that has shaken up Airbnb’s creative team, a key
department in a company known for its emphasis on branding.

The company told employees Wednesday that longtime chief design
officer Alex Schleifer would leave his executive position, moving
to a part-time role. Chesky described Ive’s appointment as “a
multi-year relationship to design the next generation of Airbnb
products and services.” The company will still seek a permanent
replacement for Schleifer.

I just wondered yesterday what Ive was up to. Airbnb (of all places!) has a really strong contingent of talented ex-Apple folks. There’s a sort of “putting the band back together” thing going on there.

How the Shift to Remote Work Is Changing Silicon Valley for the Better


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by Jaclyn Robinson. The original is [linked here]

When Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced in May that employees would be able to work from home—or from wherever they’d like—indefinitely, it marked a major change in the tech industry. Soon, other Silicon Valley companies, including Square, Slack and Upwork, followed suit, announcing their own plans to shift to a remote model. And as COVID-19 continues to spike in California, more tech giants are likely to do the same.

While the current pandemic may have hastened the process, remote work was always going to be the future of Silicon Valley. And despite what you might have seen others saying, from my perspective, after having coached dozens of founders to turn their scrappy startups into sustainable businesses that they’re proud of, that’s a good thing. Yes, it’s true that many of the collaborations which made Silicon Valley what it is today were forged in person, but that was before the new normal, and there’s no going back.

Let’s take a look at some of the key ways remote work is poised to change Silicon Valley—and the technology industry as a whole—for the better.

 

Remote Work Is Cheaper

You can’t talk about any major shift in Silicon Valley without talking about how that shift will impact the bottom line. With COVID-19 driving down revenues and making VC investments harder to come by in Silicon Valley, finding effective ways to cut costs has never been more important.

Airbnb is the perfect example. The short-term rental powerhouse started 2020 strong, with a highly anticipated IPO slated for later in the year. But then the pandemic hit and, with travel across the globe grinding to a halt, the company slashed projected revenues to less than half its 2019 earnings—which prompted layoffs of about 25 percent of its workforce

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky remains confident that the disruption to the travel industry is temporary. “Traveling is an innate human need. Travel will come back,” he said in an April interview with NPR. But once people start traveling again, Airbnb could dramatically increase their chances of survival by shifting to remote work once it starts replenishing headcounts to pre-COVID levels.

That’s according to calculations furnished by Ilit Raz, CEO and co-founder of automated diversity recruiting solution Joonko, who took available data pertaining to Airbnb’s San Francisco office–which laid off about 450 employees–to determine the potential cost savings the company could experience by shifting to a remote model.

Using an average salary of $140,000 and 100 square feet of office space per employee at the average San Francisco rates of $80 per square foot, the money spent on those 450 San Francisco employees totaled $6.3 million in salaries and $3.6 million in office space costs. That’s a whopping $9.9 million in expenses—before taking any of the standard Silicon Valley perks, like catered meals and commuting vouchers, into consideration.

“Compare this to average salaries in Denver or Atlanta, where most employees’ salaries are 50 percent less and the reduced space you need for a smaller in-house team,” Raz said. “The savings that Airbnb could realize by switching to a remote model run into the millions of dollars, to the point where it becomes senseless not to do it.”

 

Going Remote Increases Productivity, Too

While shifting to remote work can help companies in Silicon Valley cut costs—it can also impact their bottom lines by increasing overall company productivity.

According to data from FlexJobs, 85 percent of companies reported increased productivity after adopting more flexible work options—and that increased productivity can directly translate to increased profits.

A recent survey from Airtasker found that employees are 7 percent more productive when working remotely versus working in an office. And while 7 percent might not seem like a huge figure, that rise in productivity could easily increase a company’s profitability by millions—particularly Silicon Valley giants like Facebook or Google.

 

Remote Work Helps Companies Retain Top Talent

Allowing teams to work from home does more than help companies save money—it will also help them reduce employee churn.

The data shows that offering flexible work options—namely, remote work—helps companies attract and retain top talent. According to the 2019 State of Remote Work report from Owl Labs, 71 percent of workers say the option to work remotely would make them more likely to choose one company over another, while companies that offer remote work have a 25 percent lower turnover rate than companies that don’t. 

If companies want to attract and retain tech’s brightest talent, offering continuing remote work options is more important than ever—because tech workers simply aren’t ready to go back to work. A TrustRadius survey from May 2020 found that 49 percent of tech workers wouldn’t feel good about returning to an office until October or later—and with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in California this summer, that number has surely increased. 

“Over the last few months, many tech companies have made the logistical transition to fully remote workforces,” notes John Ferguson, a TrustRadius researcher. “These investments in infrastructure, software and processes may have also reduced the need for workspaces to rush to reopen in the same way as the service sector.”

What’s more, shifting to a remote model sends a clear message to the talent that their employer is invested in their safety, comfort and overall work satisfaction, which will make them more attractive to top candidates—and give them a more competitive edge in the market.

 

Geo-agnosticism Paves The Way To True Diversity

When Silicon Valley companies require employees to work in the office, they’re severely limiting their talent pool. That not only prevents them from recruiting the best, brightest and most qualified candidates, but makes it nearly impossible to create a truly diverse, inclusive workforce. “When a company is locked into a certain geographic area for most of their recruitment, they make it harder to find that richly diverse pool of applicants, especially in tech positions,” said Joonko’s Raz. 

For example, the cost of living in the Bay Area is simply out of reach for most people—including tech workers pulling in six-figure salaries—which means that Silicon Valley companies looking to fill in-office positions can only consider candidates who already have the cash necessary to live there. That requirement immediately excludes a huge percentage of the tech population, including talent coming from a lower socioeconomic background.

Embracing remote work allows companies to widen their talent pool, recruiting from a variety of schools, areas and backgrounds, making it significantly easier to create a D&I-focused culture.

Shifting to remote work is also important because, as Raz said, “it’s about making a true commitment to diversity by providing equal opportunities to talented tech professionals who simply can’t afford to live in Silicon Valley.” 

Clearly, shifting to a remote work model is key if tech companies want to stay profitable and competitive moving forward. And this remote future for Silicon Valley? It’s the best thing for companies and workers, no matter how you look at it: from a financial, talent and recruitment, or a diversity and inclusion perspective.


Victor G. Snyder has served as a leadership coach for startup founders and executives since 2003. A regular contributor to authority publications including Entrepreneur, Maddyness, Digital Leaders and Small Business Trends, he founded BossMakers in 2014, empowering entrepreneurs to filter out the noise, to achieve flow, and to tackle the challenges that allow them to own success.

The post How the Shift to Remote Work Is Changing Silicon Valley for the Better appeared first on Crunchbase.

West African Startup Decade Report: A story of entrepreneurship and innovation


This post is by ellen from Blog – Crunchbase

West Africa’s Internet startup boom began in the early 2010s when the likes of Co-creation Hub and CTIC Dakar were established in Lagos, Nigeria and Dakar, Senegal, respectively.

The region has since become a major force in the African Internet space, witnessing deals like Visa’s $200 million investment in Interswitch, a payment company with headquarters in Nigeria. A more interesting deal was Stripe’s acquisition of Paystack— Stripe paid over $200 million for the Nigerian-based payment company. 

Despite some of these landmark events, there’s no record of the activities of Internet startups in the West African region over the years.

Release of the West African Startup Decade Report

“From the beginning, Techpoint Africa has been committed to providing adequate and verified information on startups in Africa,” affirmed Adewale Yusuf, Techpoint Africa, Founder and CEO. “We extended that responsibility in 2018 when we started the Nigerian Startup Funding Report, to provide detailed and comprehensive reports about the funding activities of Nigerian startups.”

Also in 2018, the Intelligence by Techpoint team commenced data gathering and verification for the West African Startup Decade Report to give accurate information on the funding activities of startups in the region from 2010 to 2019.

“We are aware that one can’t predict the future of a market without looking at its past,” Yusuf said, “so the team worked with the most accurate data on startups in the region over the past ten years.”

The past ten years have seen the rise of startup entrepreneurs in the region with funding interests from North American, European, and Asian investors. Still, there hasn’t been a report that carefully observes and analyzes startup activities.

“We have been curating the activities of African startups and innovation in the last five years and there are people on the team that have been active in the African technology space over the last decade,” Yusuf said, commenting on why Techpoint Africa is in the best position to release the West African Startup Decade Report.

Techpoint Africa believes that this report will give insights into the types of startups that thrive in the region, their founders, the investors they attract, and the sectors they play in.

Beyond releasing the report in English, Techpoint Africa partners have translated the report to Mandarin and Japanese.

Some of the insights in the report include a West African technology market overview, a breakdown of funding activities by industries, and a comparison between accelerated and non-accelerated West African startups. Some industries, founders, opportunities, and investors in the region are also spotlighted. 

Other insights include a breakdown of founders by gender, experience, education, and origin. Also highlighted is the relationship between the number of founders and the amount raised, as well as the investment deals they participated in. 

Click here to purchase the West African Startup Decade Report in English.

Use Promo Code CRUNCHBASE for 10% off of the report


About Techpoint Africa

Techpoint Africa is a technology company that amplifies the best innovations out of Africa through its media, data, events, and tech-focused platforms.

Founded in 2015, Techpoint Africa has grown to become one of the most notable brands across Africa’s tech, startup, and business ecosystem, with a growing and dedicated audience of investors, startups, developers, professionals, and African tech enthusiasts.

Techpoint Africa hosts a variety of events, all-day seminars, and conferences, which have been host to the likes of Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square; Andre Iguodala, NBA star and tech investor; and Funke Opeke, CEO of MainOne among others.

About Intelligence by Techpoint

Intelligence by Techpoint is in charge of the Nigerian Startup Funding Report, a detailed and comprehensive report on the funding activities of Nigerian startups. Intelligence by Techpoint also offers research consultancy services to businesses and institutes.

The post West African Startup Decade Report: A story of entrepreneurship and innovation appeared first on Crunchbase.

How the Shift to Remote Work Is Changing Silicon Valley for the Better


This post is by Jaclyn Robinson from Blog – Crunchbase

When Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced in May that employees would be able to work from home—or from wherever they’d like—indefinitely, it marked a major change in the tech industry. Soon, other Silicon Valley companies, including Square, Slack and Upwork, followed suit, announcing their own plans to shift to a remote model. And as COVID-19 continues to spike in California, more tech giants are likely to do the same.

While the current pandemic may have hastened the process, remote work was always going to be the future of Silicon Valley. And despite what you might have seen others saying, from my perspective, after having coached dozens of founders to turn their scrappy startups into sustainable businesses that they’re proud of, that’s a good thing. Yes, it’s true that many of the collaborations which made Silicon Valley what it is today were forged in person, but that was before the new normal, and there’s no going back.

Let’s take a look at some of the key ways remote work is poised to change Silicon Valley—and the technology industry as a whole—for the better.

 

Remote Work Is Cheaper

You can’t talk about any major shift in Silicon Valley without talking about how that shift will impact the bottom line. With COVID-19 driving down revenues and making VC investments harder to come by in Silicon Valley, finding effective ways to cut costs has never been more important.

Airbnb is the perfect example. The short-term rental powerhouse started 2020 strong, with a highly anticipated IPO slated for later in the year. But then the pandemic hit and, with travel across the globe grinding to a halt, the company slashed projected revenues to less than half its 2019 earnings—which prompted layoffs of about 25 percent of its workforce

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky remains confident that the disruption to the travel industry is temporary. “Traveling is an innate human need. Travel will come back,” he said in an April interview with NPR. But once people start traveling again, Airbnb could dramatically increase their chances of survival by shifting to remote work once it starts replenishing headcounts to pre-COVID levels.

That’s according to calculations furnished by Ilit Raz, CEO and co-founder of automated diversity recruiting solution Joonko, who took available data pertaining to Airbnb’s San Francisco office–which laid off about 450 employees–to determine the potential cost savings the company could experience by shifting to a remote model.

Using an average salary of $140,000 and 100 square feet of office space per employee at the average San Francisco rates of $80 per square foot, the money spent on those 450 San Francisco employees totaled $6.3 million in salaries and $3.6 million in office space costs. That’s a whopping $9.9 million in expenses—before taking any of the standard Silicon Valley perks, like catered meals and commuting vouchers, into consideration.

“Compare this to average salaries in Denver or Atlanta, where most employees’ salaries are 50 percent less and the reduced space you need for a smaller in-house team,” Raz said. “The savings that Airbnb could realize by switching to a remote model run into the millions of dollars, to the point where it becomes senseless not to do it.”

 

Going Remote Increases Productivity, Too

While shifting to remote work can help companies in Silicon Valley cut costs—it can also impact their bottom lines by increasing overall company productivity.

According to data from FlexJobs, 85 percent of companies reported increased productivity after adopting more flexible work options—and that increased productivity can directly translate to increased profits.

A recent survey from Airtasker found that employees are 7 percent more productive when working remotely versus working in an office. And while 7 percent might not seem like a huge figure, that rise in productivity could easily increase a company’s profitability by millions—particularly Silicon Valley giants like Facebook or Google.

 

Remote Work Helps Companies Retain Top Talent

Allowing teams to work from home does more than help companies save money—it will also help them reduce employee churn.

The data shows that offering flexible work options—namely, remote work—helps companies attract and retain top talent. According to the 2019 State of Remote Work report from Owl Labs, 71 percent of workers say the option to work remotely would make them more likely to choose one company over another, while companies that offer remote work have a 25 percent lower turnover rate than companies that don’t. 

If companies want to attract and retain tech’s brightest talent, offering continuing remote work options is more important than ever—because tech workers simply aren’t ready to go back to work. A TrustRadius survey from May 2020 found that 49 percent of tech workers wouldn’t feel good about returning to an office until October or later—and with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in California this summer, that number has surely increased. 

“Over the last few months, many tech companies have made the logistical transition to fully remote workforces,” notes John Ferguson, a TrustRadius researcher. “These investments in infrastructure, software and processes may have also reduced the need for workspaces to rush to reopen in the same way as the service sector.”

What’s more, shifting to a remote model sends a clear message to the talent that their employer is invested in their safety, comfort and overall work satisfaction, which will make them more attractive to top candidates—and give them a more competitive edge in the market.

 

Geo-agnosticism Paves The Way To True Diversity

When Silicon Valley companies require employees to work in the office, they’re severely limiting their talent pool. That not only prevents them from recruiting the best, brightest and most qualified candidates, but makes it nearly impossible to create a truly diverse, inclusive workforce. “When a company is locked into a certain geographic area for most of their recruitment, they make it harder to find that richly diverse pool of applicants, especially in tech positions,” said Joonko’s Raz. 

For example, the cost of living in the Bay Area is simply out of reach for most people—including tech workers pulling in six-figure salaries—which means that Silicon Valley companies looking to fill in-office positions can only consider candidates who already have the cash necessary to live there. That requirement immediately excludes a huge percentage of the tech population, including talent coming from a lower socioeconomic background.

Embracing remote work allows companies to widen their talent pool, recruiting from a variety of schools, areas and backgrounds, making it significantly easier to create a D&I-focused culture.

Shifting to remote work is also important because, as Raz said, “it’s about making a true commitment to diversity by providing equal opportunities to talented tech professionals who simply can’t afford to live in Silicon Valley.” 

Clearly, shifting to a remote work model is key if tech companies want to stay profitable and competitive moving forward. And this remote future for Silicon Valley? It’s the best thing for companies and workers, no matter how you look at it: from a financial, talent and recruitment, or a diversity and inclusion perspective.


Victor G. Snyder has served as a leadership coach for startup founders and executives since 2003. A regular contributor to authority publications including Entrepreneur, Maddyness, Digital Leaders and Small Business Trends, he founded BossMakers in 2014, empowering entrepreneurs to filter out the noise, to achieve flow, and to tackle the challenges that allow them to own success.

The post How the Shift to Remote Work Is Changing Silicon Valley for the Better appeared first on Crunchbase.

Group to Dissect Role of PR in Venture Capital Funding – THISDAY Newspapers


This post is by "Venture Capital" - Google News from "Venture Capital" - Google News

Group to Dissect Role of PR in Venture Capital Funding  THISDAY Newspapers

From Inspiration to Visualization: Randi Bushell’s Mission to Streamline Event Planning


This post is by Jaclyn Robinson from Blog – Crunchbase

The Crunchbase “Female Founder Series,” is a series of stories, Q&As, and thought-leadership pieces from glass-ceiling-smashers who overcame the odds, raised funding, and are now leading successful companies.


Randi bushell headshot

Randi Bushell, co-founder and CEO of Merri, is disrupting the event planning industry by bridging the gap between envisioning an event and bringing it to life.

In the frustrating process of trying to piece together a visual of her wedding, Randi came across one area where the market fell short. Drawing on her experience in ecommerce, she saw an opportunity to create an all-in-one platform for the events industry. Her company, Merri, streamlines the planning process through immersive 3D visualization, predictive workflows, and collaboration tools.

We asked Randi about her journey as a first-time founder, her genius approach to fundraising, and the advice she has for others blazing their own path.

 

Q: Tell us the story behind your company’s founding: What led you to start this business?

A: The idea for Merri hit me while I was planning my own wedding. I am a visual person and struggled to make decisions with my vendors because I had no idea how everything would actually come together. I attempted to cobble the pieces together by arranging images on top of each other in PowerPoint, and I just really could not believe there wasn’t a better way for brides (or anyone planning any type of event, for that matter) to work through this. You’re spending so much money and so much time on a single event, yet there’s no proper tooling to really facilitate the process. I also saw what was happening in the interior design market, where companies were using 3D visualization as an entry point into a marketplace and recognized the applicability of that model in the events market. 

 

Q: What was your biggest challenge during the fundraising process, and how did you mitigate it?

A: My biggest challenge during the fundraising process was that I had never done it before, and doing anything for the first time is hard! When you’re new to something, you lack your own perspective and sometimes take others’ opinions when you shouldn’t. After a few meetings, I realized that if I took everyone’s advice then I would not only drive myself crazy, but Merri wouldn’t have a coherent vision. I had to find my voice, stick to my gut, and know which advice to follow and which to ultimately ignore.

 

Q: What was the best piece of fundraising advice you got?

A: The best fundraising advice that I’ve ever received was that investors like to invest in lines, not dots. It sounds so obvious, but you need to cultivate relationships with investors much earlier than when you set out to raise. Have conversations early and take note of what their primary hesitations are. Use the next six to 12 months as an opportunity to convert them for your next round. Send them personal updates about key milestones that directly disprove their hesitations. This not only shows that you’re execution-oriented, but also allows you to build a rapport with them so that when it comes time to raise, it’s an easy conversation and not a formal pitch.

 

Q: In what ways do you think differently about your industry than others do? 

A: Prior to starting Merri, I spent my career in ecommerce (Jet.com, Walmart.com, Macys.com), which allows me to bring a really unique perspective to the events industry. I saw an opportunity to build a marketplace across all categories involved in designing an event—furniture rentals, linens, lighting, florals, and décor—and allow people to discover items in an immersive 3D environment. We have built predictive workflows and recommendations engines to help consumers discover products in an extremely visual way. For the past five to 10 years, everyone has been focused on creating inspiration, and hooking consumers with content, but nobody has focused on building layers on top of that inspiration to actually facilitate bookings. At Merri, we’re bridging that gap.

 

Q: How did you identify and approach the right investors for your company?

A: We took a very methodical approach to building out a target investor list. We first looked at all funds that invest in pre-seed and seed rounds, then narrowed it down to funds who invest in SaaS and marketplace companies, and filtered out funds that would view us as competitive to a company in their portfolio. We then scored that list using criteria such as how active they’ve been in the past year, if they’ve invested in similar technologies, and if they’ve written any literature about analogous business models or problems. Once we had that prioritized list, we found first- and second-degree connections on LinkedIn and started asking for introductions.

 

Q: What is one challenge you have faced as a female founder? What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs in a similar situation?

A: I got feedback from a potential investor about a year ago that has really stuck with me. He told me that the beginning of my pitch was really focused on what we’ve done to date, and I didn’t get to the vision for Merri until too late in the pitch. Apparently, this is a common trait with female founders because we feel like we need to prove ourselves by listing out our accomplishments to date, instead of selling our big vision for our company. My advice to female founders is to not get caught up in the details. The details will work themselves out if you have investors, customers, and a team that is in lockstep with your vision. Don’t be afraid to sell the vision…it’s your job.

 

Q: What advice would you give someone starting out on the journey you’re on?

A: Take it one step at a time. And then cut that step in half. You’ll think you’ve descoped things appropriately, and that you’re focusing on the right set of priorities. But I promise that you’ll look back every few months and realize that you could’ve done even less and focused even more. Your future self will thank you (and so will your team).


Dreamers & Doers is a private collective which amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary womxn through high-impact resources, community and mutual support. It is supported by a global ecosystem of 30,000 womxn. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and sign up for their monthly carefully curated list of top career and entrepreneurial resources.

The post From Inspiration to Visualization: Randi Bushell’s Mission to Streamline Event Planning appeared first on Crunchbase.

Middle aged… and fired up


This post is by Christian Hernandez from Stories by Christian Hernandez on Medium

In 22 minutes I will turn 45… my youngest son has claimed that 44 is when you are officially “old”… so I guess I am now old…or at least halfway through my life (I hope!).

But I have a 79 year old father who reads a book a week, walks 10,000 steps a day (even during lockdown inside an apartment)and has still has a twinkle in his eye. So there is inspiration…

So as I turn 45 I am for once serene (and those of you that know me know that is a dichotomy). Two years ago I said I was stepping back from the VC firm I co-founded. It was my choice. Two and a half years ago I made a proclamation that I wanted to back S**t that Matters. That was my choice.

So I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how to do that… and perhaps this is my mid-life crisis, but if I only have have half my live to live I must as well get going on making an impact beyond a Like button, one more app shipped or another scooter company backed.

I asked my kids whether they thought they would still be alive in 2150, and two of the three said yes (and I assume the little one said no just to be contrarian). I also asked Twitter:

2150 is 130 years away…. and 39% of you agreed that your kids — as mine did- believe they will still be around. So this is not a “next generation” thing…. this is a looking over to your kids and thinking what kind of world you want them to have thing.

So, as the minutes click down until this milestone birthday, I just wanted to memorialise that I am “fired up, and ready to go!”

Should I write a follow up post to this in 45 years I want it to say “I found the Gigacorns and I saw them rise… I know my children and their children, come 2150, will thrive”

So, according to my son I am “old” now… but I feel young to take this new mission on…

Oh and look it is now past midnight… let’s get to it!

Airbnb Taps Jony Ive for Design Help


This post is by Zoë Bernard from The Information

Airbnb has hired famed former Apple designer Jony Ive as a creative consultant ahead of its initial public offering, CEO Brian Chesky said Wednesday. The hire is the most significant in a series of moves that has shaken up Airbnb’s creative team, a key department in a company known for its emphasis on branding.

The company told employees Wednesday that longtime chief design officer Alex Schleifer would leave his executive position, moving to a part-time role. Chesky described Ive’s appointment as “a multi-year relationship to design the next generation of Airbnb products and services.” The company will still seek a permanent replacement for Schleifer.

How to Watch the Final 2020 Presidential Debate


This post is by Caitlin Kelly from Feed: All Latest

Joe Biden and Donald Trump square off for the second and last time on a debate stage Thursday night in Nashville.

Tesla is a chain of startups, Elon Musk explains


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by Matt Burns. The original is [linked here]

Today during a call with investors and journalists, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was asked to expand a tweet from yesterday. In it, he stated: “Tesla should really be thought of as roughly a dozen technology startups, many of which have little to no correlation with traditional automotive companies.”

In short, he explained there are over a dozen startups in Tesla, and he views every product line and plant as a startup. It’s an interesting point of view from the top of Tesla, a car manufacturing company that also builds batteries, home solar panels, and among other things, is looking to offer car insurance, too.

Outside of vehicle manufacturing, Musk points to insurance when asked about the growth potential. He says the insurance business could grow into 30-40% of Tesla’s car business.

This strategy seemingly works well for Tesla, which constantly rolls out updates to existing products at an unusual pace. New features arrive without much warning, and it makes sense when Tesla is treating different vehicle component divisions as a collection of companies instead of a collection of divisions.

According to Musk, some of the so-called startups include autonomy, chip design, vehicle service, sales, designing a drive unit, motors, supercharger network, and soon insurance.

“The thing people don’t understand about Tesla is [the company] is a whole chain of startups,” Musk said. “And then people say, ‘well, you didn’t do that before.’ Yeah, well, we’re doing it now. I think we may have been a bit slower than other startups, but I don’t think we’ve really had anything fail.”

He concluded there are no plans to spin out any business, noting there’s no need to add complexity.

Daily Crunch: Quibi is shutting down – TechCrunch


This post is by "Venture Capital" - Google News from "Venture Capital" - Google News

Daily Crunch: Quibi is shutting down  TechCrunch

The Left and the Right Speak Different Languages—Literally


This post is by Will Knight from Feed: All Latest

A study analyzing patterns in online comments found that liberals and conservatives use different words to express similar ideas.

Quibi Is Shutting Down After Raising $1.75B In Funding


This post is by Christine Hall from Crunchbase News

After much speculation throughout the day, media outlets are now reporting that media company Quibi is shutting down.

The Wall Street Journal reported sources saying founder Jeffrey Katzenberg “called investors to tell them he is shutting the service down.” That follows The Information’s report of Katzenberg unsuccessfully pitching Quibi as an acquisition to Apple, Facebook and Warner Media.

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The Los Angeles-based short-form streaming video service was founded by movie producer Katzenberg in 2018, and is led by Meg Whitman, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard

However, Quibi didn’t come onto the scene until about six months ago, just as the global pandemic was in full swing. Users could subscribe to the service, which offers 5-minute to 10-minute “chapters” of shows featuring Hollywood stars such as Chrissy Teigen, Kevin Hart and Anna Kendrick. 

WSJ reported the company’s challenges ranged from attracting and retaining subscribers to coming into a market that was already saturated.

In total, Quibi raked in $1.75 billion in funding in two rounds, according to Crunchbase data. The first was a $1 billion venture round in 2018 led by Madrone Capital Partners that included high-profile investors The Walt Disney Company, Time Warner and Alibaba Group. The second was a $750,000 private equity round announced in March.

Photo: Jeffrey Katzenberg demonstrates Quibi’s Turnstyle technology at Sundance 2020 on January 24, 2020 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Quibi)

Which VCs Open Cold Emails? Keith Rabois. Aileen Lee. David Sacks. Satya Patel. And More.


This post is by Jason Lemkin from SaaStr

A little while back, we did a great digital event, The New New in Venture.  We explored how venture has changed since Covid with many of the best, and many I look up to, from Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures to Satya Patel of Homebrew to Keith Rabois of Founders Fund and so much more.

I took advantage of the format to ask every VC I interviewed one question: Do You Open Cold Email?

And you know, it’s not just me.  (I love a great cold e-mail).  All of them do.  You can catch up on the sessions here:

I asked again and again, clearly.  Do you open cold emails?  How often?  And have you funded deals from them?  The answers were consistently yes, most of them, and yes I’ve funded them.

I learned:

  • Keith Rabois prefers a deck, and he reads most of them.
  • Aileen Lee or her partners read every email pitch that comes into Cowboy Ventures.
  • David Sacks of Craft prefers a short email pitch that summarizes the opportunity.
  • Satya Patel of Homebrew reads everything sent to him

Personally, I do get behind on email, but I love an amazing cold email and have funded maybe ~50% of my investments from them.  I like an email pitch that is so amazing, that I’d fund it just based on the email alone.  More on that here:

2 Cold Emails I Funded For Millions

So yes, is a perfect warm intro better?  Well, maybe.  But even the top, most famous Seed VCs are hunting.  Hunting unicorns and decacorns.  And they can’t wait for them all to come from their networks.

So put together the very, very best cold email you can.  Make it awesome, in every way.  And send it to your top VCs.

They may not respond.  But if it’s awesome, including the title, I bet they open it.  And if it’s super awesome, you have a better chance than you might think of getting a meeting.

Just don’t ask for coffee or to compare notes.  Selling stock in sales.  Make it count.  And it will work.

Here’s one of the best SaaS companies in the world, worth $3b+.  That I funded from an A+ cold email.  The email’s even shown in the video:

The post Which VCs Open Cold Emails? Keith Rabois. Aileen Lee. David Sacks. Satya Patel. And More. appeared first on SaaStr.

Gillmor Gang: Something Goes Right


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by Steve Gillmor. The original is [linked here]

Here we sit in the valley of predespair, 2 weeks ahead of the election and God knows where we are in the pandemic. As my partner Tina says to me on this once glorious sunny day (the view formerly known as the Pacific Ocean has been replaced by the fog like a Zoom background) we seem to be better prepared for something to go wrong than right.

We’ve learned how to stay socially distant, half-learned to wear a mask, unlearned how it might be a good idea to stay home and let things just happen. The last four years seems like a bizarre experiment in what not to do, the triumph of the worst of our instincts and fear of the other. For my generation, the thought that we would be tested so apocalyptically had never entered our mind. Free love, social media, mind-altering drugs — all ideas that seemed good at the time.

Too good to be true, it turned out. In the stampede to enjoy the fruits of our labors, we turned success into the failure of others. The space race may have spawned the computer industry, but it also reinforced the notion that we beat them to save us. And the tech boom saw us undermine the very soul, the soundtrack of how we marked our lives. Thanks, Napster.

Today, East v. West is Apple v. Android, a detente that Washington distorts into trust v. loyalty. Which is worse, the silence of the social giants or making mistakes in the open? I’m sick of beating up on Twitter for our failures, even more so our toothless tut-tutting of Facebook for spreading the lies we support by staying put.

So, let’s try something going right for a change. Take Spotify and their new plan to embed full versions of our musical heritage in podcasts. This is a complicated offer, to be sure. You can’t use partial versions of songs, talk over any portion of the song, or place ads within 60 seconds of music. Ads must have at least 10 minutes of non-music content between them. More importantly, these shows are only available on Spotify’s Anchor podcasting service.

But what really stands out is the attempt by one of the two major music streaming services to create a composite product reconstituting a post digital radio business. If Apple Music were nudged to support the idea, it would resuscitate a major platform of the tech crowd with a mashup of DJ and playlist content. This in turn would create new leaderboards or charts in old record biz terms that would jumpstart new and catalog music in media. Already we see some of that energy in Saturday Night Live clips where audience numbers are shifting to mobile and online viewing. Composite ratings of broadcast and digital are growing fast.

This evolution from broadcast to online ratings success may presage how live entertainment venues and audiences obliterated by the pandemic adapt with hybrid live/digital events. We’re seeing this act out in real time with the election, where early voting and election day registration have produced record turnout for both the safety of mail and absentee voting (mostly Democrats) and more traditional party switching (mostly Republicans or former Democrats more engaged by Trump.) This “new normal” in politics may not bear immediate fruit, but it’s at a minimum a harbinger of things to come.

Fast forward to a future dinner party in an AR/VR augmented version of our favorite restaurants, with autotesting and contact tracing making it safe enough to reconstitute weekly gettogethers not just of local friends but virtual guests from around our town and beyond. Courses are served by delivery and robot waiters as we watch party our favorite artists and comedians both professional and amateur. Election night becomes a vote-from-home proposition, with the electoral college results calculated in realtime.

As the concession speeches wind down, a vanquished candidate references the Paul Simon song:

When something goes wrong
I’m the first to admit it
I’m the first to admit it
But the last one to know
When something goes right
Well it’s likely to lose me
It’s apt to confuse me
It’s such an unusual sight
I can’t get used to something so right
Something so right

__________________

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Friday, October 16, 2020.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

For more, subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.