Day: February 26, 2021

3 Ways Consumer-Focused Tech Startups Can Better Serve Connected Communities And Attract Investors in 2021

UCLA Professor Matthew Lieberman once said, “being socially connected is our brain’s lifelong passion … It’s been baked into our operating system for tens of millions of years.” Now, in light of stay-at-home measures and social distancing, such connection has never been more important.

During the COVID-19 pandemic alone, internet use surged 70 percent as billions of people around the world moved their personal and professional connections with the outer world online seemingly overnight. 

While the mass online shift has driven predictable technology booms in edtech, social media, e-commerce and digital entertainment, the new normal has unearthed “new problems” in parts of society that had once been resistant to digital transformation. In response, there’s a wealth of opportunities for startups that are able to pivot and tackle the most pressing issues for newly connected communities. 

Housing, cultural events, local business activity and friendly interactions are being powered by smart technology that is better serving community inhabitants. That’s why consumer-focused products are at the heart of what we call connected communities — where emerging technology improves services and quality of life within populations. 

At the turn of the year, following is how B2C companies can best serve those communities, and ultimately catch the eyes of investors looking for the next Zoom or BYJU’S.


Cater to newly online demographics and industries

New, nonorganic user markets are currently emerging. These are demographics that aren’t traditionally digitally fluent but have recently been transitioning online. The most notable is the elderly population. (Read more...)

With $62.5M in debt financing, Road Runner Media puts digital ads behind commercial vehicles

If Southern California-based Road Runner Media succeeds, you’ll start seeing a lot more ads while you’re driving.

That’s because the startup is placing digital screens on the back of technicians’ vans, delivery vehicles, buses and other commercial vehicles. Those screens can show both ads and serve as a brake light — according to founder and chairman Randall Lanham, the brake light functionality is required if you’re putting a sign on the back of a vehicle.

“The way we look at it, we are a digital brake light,” Lanham said. Yes, the brake light is showing ads, but “the driver touching the brakes interrupts the ad.” (The sign can also indicate turns, reversing and emergency flashers. You can see a mock-up ad in the image above, and real footage in the video below.)

To pursue this idea, Lanham (who described himself as a “recovering attorney”) enlisted Chris Riley as CEO — Riley’s experience includes several years as CEO of PepsiCo Australia and New Zealand. And the company announced this week that it has secured $62.5 million in debt financing from Baseline Growth Capital.

The idea of putting ads on moving vehicles isn’t new. There are, of course, ads on the tops of taxis, and startups like Firefly are also putting digital signage on top of Ubers and Lyfts. But Riley said Road Runner’s ruggedized, high-resolution LCD screens are very different, due to their size, quality and placement.

“[Taxi-top ads] (Read more...)

Ranked: The World’s Black Billionaires in 2021

This post is by Jenna Ross from Visual Capitalist

Black billionaires

Can I share this graphic?
Yes. Visualizations are free to share and post in their original form across the web—even for publishers. Please link back to this page and attribute Visual Capitalist.
When do I need a license?
Licenses are required for some commercial uses, translations, or layout modifications. You can even whitelabel our visualizations. Explore your options.
Interested in this piece?
Click here to license this visualization.

The World’s Black Billionaires in 2021

Black billionaires make up fewer than 1% of all billionaires worldwide. Who are the select few who made it into the ranks of the world’s richest people?

In this graphic, we used the Forbes real-time billionaire list to highlight the most financially successful Black people, and the source(s) of their wealth.

Black Billionaires, Ranked

The data is as of February 24, 2021, and includes bi/multi racial individuals with Black ancestry. Altogether, there are 15 Black billionaires with a combined wealth of $48.9 billion.

Here is the how the full list breaks down:

RankNameNet WorthCitizenshipSource
1Aliko Dangote$11.5BNigeriaCement, sugar
2Mike Adenuga$6.1BNigeriaTelecom, oil
3Robert F. Smith$5.2BUnited StatesPrivate equity
4Abdulsamad Rabiu$4.8BNigeriaCement, sugar
5David Steward$3.7BUnited StatesIT provider
6Patrice Motsepe$3.1BSouth AfricaMining
7Alexander Karp$3.0BUnited StatesSoftware firm
8Oprah Winfrey$2.6BUnited StatesTV shows
9Michael Jordan$1.6BUnited StatesCharlotte Hornets, endorsements
10 (Read more...)

Big Markets Continually Create Opportunities

Last week I was reading through the DigitalOcean S-1 IPO filing and seeing their cloud hosting business at $357M of recurring revenue growing 25% year-over-year reminded me how large, fast growing markets continually create opportunities.

At Pardot, for most of our run with the business, we used SoftLayer for our cloud hosting. At the time, SoftLayer was the up-and-comer that primarily did dedicated hosting with a strong price-to-feature ratio. Rackspace was the much larger player in the industry commanding a premium and differentiating via their customer service model.

Today, SoftLayer and Rackspace are much smaller players compared to the juggernauts of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. From the outside looking in, it felt like the market was wrapped up. How would a relatively new startup like DigitalOcean compete with three trillion dollar companies?

From the DigitalOcean S-1 (page ii):

DigitalOcean was founded with a focus on creating simple solutions that developers love. Our mission is to simplify cloud computing so developers and businesses can spend more time creating software that changes the world. We estimate there are approximately 100 million SMBs globally today and 14 million new businesses started each year across the globe. We believe DigitalOcean is the perfect place for them to start, get lift-off and build their businesses.

DigitalOcean S-1 page ii

For DigitalOcean, it was “simple solutions that developers love.” The early days of Amazon Web Services were focused on developers as well, but back then the technology was significantly more (Read more...)

Atlassian is acquiring Chartio to bring data visualization to the platform

The Atlassian platform is chock full of data about how a company operates and communicates. Atlassian launched a machine learning layer, which relies on data on the platform with the addition of Atlassian Smarts last fall. Today the company announced it was acquiring Chartio to add a new data analysis and visualization component to the Atlassian family of products. The companies did not share a purchase price.

The company plans to incorporate Chartio technology across the platform, starting with Jira. Before being acquired, Chartio has generated its share of data, reporting that 280,000 users have created 10.5 million charts for 540,000 dashboards pulled from over 100,000 data sources.

Atlassian sees Chartio as way to bring that data visualization component to the platform and really take advantage of the data locked inside its products. “Atlassian products are home to a treasure trove of data, and our goal is to unleash the power of this data so our customers can go beyond out-of-the-box reports and truly customize analytics to meet the needs of their organization,” Zoe Ghani, head of product experience at platform at Atlassian wrote in a blog post announcing the deal.

Chartio co-founder and CEO Dave Fowler wrote in a blog post on his company website that the two companies started discussing a deal late last year, which culminated in today’s announcement. As is often the case in these deals, he is arguing that his company will be better off as part of large organization like (Read more...)

Black History Month: Celebrating Leaders & Initiatives Driving More Black Representation in VC

Black employees comprised 3% of all investment partners at U.S. VC firms in 2018, and 1% of total venture funding went to Black or African American startup founders in 2020. As an industry, we are far from where we should be with respect to Black representation among senior leaders. We have a long way to go, but as we’ve reached the end of February and Black History Month, we want to reflect on some of the positives and progress in the industry by highlighting a few leaders, organizations, and efforts that are driving meaningful change for more Black representation in VC. These groups and individuals (and others!) are making history. At Venture Forward, we share the mission of shaping a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DE&I) industry, and we’re excited to recognize their accomplishments.

Unlocking Capital & Building Wealth

Capital is the backbone of opportunity and a driver for success in the venture industry. Systemic and institutional barriers have historically limited Black investors from accessing capital or participating in the wealth creation of VC, but several recent efforts have been encouraging:

  • Backstage Capital raised more than $1 million for a new fund on private investing platform Republic from anyone (including unaccredited investors) thanks to the SEC Regulation Crowdfunding rule, providing an opportunity for new and underrepresented limited partners (LPs) in VC.
  • Acrew Capital launched a new fund targeting LPs from underrepresented backgrounds to help build wealth for these investors.
  • Venture-backed startup Finix allocated 10% of its Series B round for 80 (Read more...)

Instilling Corporate Culture

This post is by Jeff Carter from Points and Figures

The pandemic stopped people from going to the office.  We can see a time where that won’t be the case anymore. Herd immunity by April is the projection of some scientists.  For sure by the middle of summer if governments do a good job of distributing vaccines.  Of course, relying on the government to do anything well is a lesson in mismanagement but I digress.

I wonder about how companies and firms will instill corporate culture into new employees.

When I was 21, I took a job at 3M.  The first order of operations was decamping to St. Paul, MN for the entire summer.  We started training in June after graduation.  I had around 15 people in my training class.  We stayed at a hotel right by the HQ and every day we’d put in 8 solid hours of training.  In the evening, my class would hang out.  We’d hang out on weekends too.  My wife had a similar experience with Johnson and Johnson.

You would meet rising stars in the company and relationships would be formed.  Mentorship happened.

You’d learn skills and facts about products, but you would learn things like, “25% of our top-line revenue is generated by products introduced in the last five years.”  You would hear stories of how a salesperson or scientist or marketing person created something that contributed to that top line.  That tells you, “we are innovative and we expect you to be innovative too.”  We even had informal rites of passage.  I (Read more...)