Nigeria: Group to Dissect Role of PR in Venture Capital Funding – AllAfrica.com


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Nigeria: Group to Dissect Role of PR in Venture Capital Funding  AllAfrica.com

A New Push for Diversity in Funding Tech Startups – The Wall Street Journal


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A New Push for Diversity in Funding Tech Startups  The Wall Street Journal

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


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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.

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


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

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


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Daily Crunch: Quibi is shutting down  TechCrunch

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.

4 Ways to Use 100,000 Capital One Venture Miles – Motley Fool


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4 Ways to Use 100,000 Capital One Venture Miles  Motley Fool

VCs say big tech often helps startups, challenging House lawmakers – Business Insider


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VCs say big tech often helps startups, challenging House lawmakers  Business Insider

Will The Lies Of Clean Energy Investors In 2009 Trip Them Up Again In 2021? – Forbes


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Will The Lies Of Clean Energy Investors In 2009 Trip Them Up Again In 2021?  Forbes

Bind announces $105 million Series B round of venture capital – Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal


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Bind announces $105 million Series B round of venture capital  Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal

Sacramento County moves $15 million to venture capital – Pensions & Investments


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Sacramento County moves $15 million to venture capital  Pensions & Investments

T-Mobile launches venture capital fund to invest in startups building 5G-related tech – GeekWire


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T-Mobile launches venture capital fund to invest in startups building 5G-related tech  GeekWire

T-Mobile launches venture capital fund to invest in startups building 5G-related tech – GeekWire


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  1. T-Mobile launches venture capital fund to invest in startups building 5G-related tech  GeekWire
  2. T-Mobile Unveils Venture Capital Fund to Fuel 5G Innovation  Odessa American
  3. T-Mobile’s Neville Ray unveils 5G venture capital fund, talks FWA  FierceWireless
  4. T-Mobile Launches Venture Capital Fund to Support 5G Innovation  FinSMEs
  5. T-Mobile launches venture capital fund for 5G innovation (NASDAQ:TMUS)  Seeking Alpha
  6. View Full Coverage on Google News

Venture Capital Giant NEA Exploring Minority Stake Sale – Bloomberg


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Venture Capital Giant NEA Exploring Minority Stake Sale  Bloomberg

Venture Capital Giant NEA Exploring Minority Stake Sale – Bloomberg


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Venture Capital Giant NEA Exploring Minority Stake Sale  Bloomberg

A New Push for Diversity in Funding Tech Startups – Wall Street Journal


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A New Push for Diversity in Funding Tech Startups  Wall Street Journal