I was catching up on Dan Primack’s Pro Rata newsletter and couldn’t help but notice the growing length of SPAC-related news & announcements. The new financial instrument is very au currant. So far, there have been 144 new SPAC IPOs that have raised close to $45 billion. In 2020, 248 SPAC IPOs raised $83 billion. Clearly, not all of them are going to be “awesome.” Don’t they say that the rising tide lifts all wrecks? I wonder how many of the SPACs are going to leave behind a trail of tears. Here is a list of all SPAC-related listings.
Whenever a team is heading into a high-stakes project of any kind, I recommend they run a 1-hour pre-mortem. This brainstorming exercise stretches the team to identify possible failure points. Once you’ve spotted items, you can then decide which ones deserve mitigating strategies. It creates a safe space to talk about concerns without fear of appearing overly negative or critical of others.
Here’s a way to run the meeting with a geographically distributed team:
Before the meeting
Create the brainstorming board. This can be as simply as a shared Google Sheets doc, but if you have a Mural or Miro account, I like using visual sticky notes. Put a big, blank box in the middle. Around the periphery, spread out sticky notes with the participants’ names. It doesn’t really matter if you go with different colors or all the same color.
Decide who should attend. I would recommend getting as much cross-functional representation as possible. However, avoid having someone in the room who might stifle honest, speculative concerns (sometimes the presence of certain senior executives can have that effect).
Invite participants. In your email, set the context. For example:
Team, we are running a group pre-mortem to identify and get ahead of possible risks in hitting our goal. Before the meeting, please carve out some quiet time to think: imagine that it is [June 30] and we’ve MISSED our goal to [hit a metric, ship a feature, etc]. Why did this happen? Please think about all the things that (Read more...)
Visualizing How COVID-19 Impacted Global Wages
In the years leading up to the pandemic, annual global wage growth was fluctuating stably between 1.6%–2.2%. Now, income, working hours, and employment have all been impacted by COVID-19—but for those who have held onto their jobs, how have wages been affected?
This interactive chart from the International Labour Organization (ILO) reveals how the global pandemic has affected both nominal and real wages, as well as unemployment rates.
The date of data collection varies on a country-by-country basis, using the most recent available data. The most recent measurement of wage indices is from September 2020 in some countries and the least recent available data comes from Q2’2020. In select countries the date of unemployment rates and wage indices are different. As a point of reference, the average wage index in 2019 was 100.
Note: the ILO uses national statistics databases and only the select countries had enough recent, available data for all three elements: nominal wages, real wages, and unemployment.
Where Average Wages are Falling
Average wages in many countries either plateaued or decreased significantly during the global pandemic. Sharp declines happened across a number of European countries, as well as in South Africa and Japan, for example.
|Country||Unemployment Rate||Real Wage Index||Nominal Wage Index|
|Vietnam (as of Q2'2020)||2.7%||92.4||94.4|
|Spain (as of Q2'2020)||15.3%||92.5||92.3|
|Mexico (as of August 2020)||5%||94.4||98|
|South Africa (as of Q2'2020)||23.3%||95.2||97.4|
|South Korea (as of August 2020)||3.1%||(Read more...)|
Greylock general partner Sarah Guo discusses the ever-evolving cybersecurity risk landscape and how businesses and governments can proactively protect their data. She is joined by Obsidian Security co-founder and CTO Glenn Chisolm, whose company protects SaaS and cloud services, and New York Times cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth, whose book “This is How They Tell Me the World Ends:The Cyberweapons Arms Race” published in February 2021.
I haven’t been posting about my reading lately. While I continue to read at my typical pace, I think I was a little tired of writing book reports, but that has passed.
Last night I read The 80/80 Marriage: A New Model for a Happier, Stronger Relationship. Kaley and Nate Klemp have written an excellent book that can help any married couple improve their relationship. This is especially true in the time of Covid, given all the additional dynamics about being home together most of the time.
When Amy and I wrote Startup Life: Surviving and Thriving in a Relationship with an Entrepreneur in 2013, our goal was to write something different than YARB (“yet another relationship book”). Whenever I worked on it, I had in my mind, “Do not let this be a YARB.”
The 80/80 Marriage is definitely NOT a YARB. The framework comes from the idea that many marriages are 80/20 with a goal of shifting to 50/50, where the partners are equal in the relationship. Kaley and Nate’s goal is to do better than 50/50, hence 80/80.
Amy and I have had an equal partnership in our marriage from the beginning. However, as any married couple knows, that ebbs and flows and at times doesn’t feel equal. The two of us talk about it often, and when we get out of balance on any dimension, we both own what is going on, discuss what we need to do to get back in balance, and (Read more...)
Krisp, a startup that uses machine learning to remove background noise from audio in real time, has raised $9M as an extension of its $5M A round announced last summer. The extra money followed big traction in 2020 for the Armenian company, which grew its customers and revenue by more than an order of magnitude.
TechCrunch first covered Krisp when it was just emerging from UC Berkeley’s Skydeck accelerator, and co-founder Davit Baghdasaryan was relatively freshly out of his previous role at Twilio. The company’s pitch when I chatted with them in the shared office back then was simple and remains the core of what they offer: isolation of the human voice from any background noise (including other voices) so that audio contains only the former.
It probably comes as no surprise, then, that the company appears to have benefited immensely from the shift to virtual meetings and other trends accelerated by the pandemic. To be specific, Baghdasaryan told me that 2020 brought the company a 20x increase in active users, a 23x increase in enterprise accounts and 13x improvement of annual recurring revenue.
The rise in virtual meetings — often in noisy places like, you know, homes — has led to significant uptake across multiple industries. Krisp now has more than 1,200 enterprise customers, Baghdasaryan said: banks, HR platforms, law firms, call centers — anyone who benefits from having a clear voice on the line (“I guess any company qualifies,” he added). Enterprise-oriented controls like provisioning and (Read more...)
Azus has worked at Cisco, RingCentral and most recently Zoom. In his previous roles he held a number of sales titles, including his final role at RingCentral where he was its executive vice president of global sales and services.
Zoom needs little introduction, having crossed over from enterprise software success story to consumer phenomenon during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time companies, groups, individuals and families leaned on the video chat provider to stay in touch.
Azus has been at the helm of Zoom’s money engine since mid-2019, which means that he has sat atop it during one of the most impressive periods of sales growth at any software company — ever.
So we’re glad that he’ll be at TC Early Stage this year, where we’ll pepper him with questions. Bring your own, of course, as we’ll be reserving around half our time for audience Q&A.
But the TechCrunch crew has a plethora of things we want to chat about too, including the importance of bottom-up sales during the pandemic, especially in contrast to the more traditional sales bullpen model that many startups have historically used; how to balance self-service sales and human-powered sales at a tech company that presents both options to customers, and their relative strength in 2021; changes to (Read more...)
Welcome to the NVCA Blog series, Building Better, where we celebrate the dynamic relationship between our VC members and their innovative portfolio companies around the nation. For today’s Building Better, we spoke with Steve Murray, Managing Partner at Revolution Growth, and with Shivani Siroya, Founder and CEO of Tala, a Revolution portfolio company. Learn about their partnership in the Q&A below!
Revolution: Steve Murray
Give us some background on Revolution: How did the firm start, what is your mission and how does the firm strive to meet its goals?
Revolution is an investment firm, based in DC, founded by AOL co-founder Steve Case in 2005. We work with entrepreneurs across all stages and have three funds: Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed funds, Revolution Ventures, and Revolution Growth. I lead our later stage fund, Revolution Growth, along with Steve and Ted Leonsis, founder and owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment.
We work hand-in-hand with our founders to build and scale category-defining companies and have nearly $1B under management. A common thread across our firm is the focus on venture communities in high-potential geographies outside of Silicon Valley. Emerging cities offer compelling costs and lifestyle benefits and more recently, have had the opportunity to attract high-demand talent with the tech flight from some of the more traditional venture hot beds.
What does Revolution look for in a partner when choosing to invest in a portfolio company? What does Revolution value? What do you value in the Tala team (Read more...)
If we are not careful, every entry of this column could consist of SPAC news.
Special purpose acquisition companies, or blank-check companies, whatever you prefer to call them, are enormous business today. But they aren’t the only thing going on, and we’ll get to other things shortly. Consider this an apology for having written about SPACs twice in two days.
Yesterday, we considered the rise of the VC-led SPAC and whether venture capital groups that offer seed-through-SPAC money will wind up with advantage in the market over firms that specialize on any particular startup stage. Sticking to the blank-check theme, this morning we’re looking into two SPAC-led deals, namely those involving Rover and MoneyLion.
We’re doubling up to prevent more SPAC-related posts. And we’ve selected Rover because Chewy, another pet-themed entity, is an already-public company. As both were venture-backed, we may be able to contrast their trading performance post-debut. Sadly, Chewy is focused on pet e-commerce while Rover is more centered around pet services, but they may prove close enough for some loose comparisons.
And why chat about MoneyLion? Because it’s a heavily venture-backed fintech startup, one that TechCrunch has covered extensively. If its SPAC-assisted vault into the public markets goes well, it could smooth the same path forward for myriad other yet-private fintechs sitting atop a mountain of raised capital.
So this is a (Read more...)
Talkshoplive is a startup that’s worked with stars like Paul McCartney and Garth Brooks, as well as small businesses, to host shopping-focused live videos. Today, it’s announcing that it has raised $3 million in seed funding from Spero Ventures.
CEO Bryan Moore founded the company with his sister Tina in 2018. Moore previously led social media efforts at Twentieth Television (previously known as Twentieth Century Fox) and CBS Television, and he said he was inspired to launch Talkshoplive by the rise of livestreamed shopping experiences in China.
At the same time, Moore said it wasn’t enough to just copy what worked in China: “Small businesses are different here, talent is different, the needs are different.” One of the keys, in his view, is to focus on helping creators and businesses meet their customers where those customers already are — which he also suggested differentiates Talkshoplive from competing services as well.
For one thing, the startup does not require consumers to download any additional apps in order to watch its videos. Instead, it’s created a video player that works on the Talkshoplive website, on the websites of its partners and anywhere else that videos can be embedded. And wherever those videos are played, they also include a one-click buy button.
Moore said Talkshoplive started out with a focus in books and music, working with famous names like Matthew McConaughey, Alicia Keys and Dolly Parton, as well as the aforementioned Brooks (Read more...)