Blog of the website «TechCrunch» Прогноз погоды

People

John Smith

John Smith, 49

Joined: 28 January 2014

Interests: No data

Jonnathan Coleman

Jonnathan Coleman, 32

Joined: 18 June 2014

About myself: You may say I'm a dreamer

Interests: Snowboarding, Cycling, Beer

Andrey II

Andrey II, 41

Joined: 08 January 2014

Interests: No data

David

David

Joined: 05 August 2014

Interests: No data

David Markham

David Markham, 65

Joined: 13 November 2014

Interests: No data

Michelle Li

Michelle Li, 41

Joined: 13 August 2014

Interests: No data

Max Almenas

Max Almenas, 53

Joined: 10 August 2014

Interests: No data

29Jan

29Jan, 32

Joined: 29 January 2014

Interests: No data

s82 s82

s82 s82, 26

Joined: 16 April 2014

Interests: No data

Wicca

Wicca, 37

Joined: 18 June 2014

Interests: No data

Phebe Paul

Phebe Paul, 27

Joined: 08 September 2014

Interests: No data

Артем Ступаков

Артем Ступаков, 93

Joined: 29 January 2014

About myself: Радуюсь жизни!

Interests: No data

sergei jkovlev

sergei jkovlev, 59

Joined: 03 November 2019

Interests: музыка, кино, автомобили

Алексей Гено

Алексей Гено, 8

Joined: 25 June 2015

About myself: Хай

Interests: Интерес1daasdfasf, http://apple.com

technetonlines

technetonlines

Joined: 24 January 2019

Interests: No data



Main article: Mary Meeker

<< Back Forward >>
Topics from 1 to 10 | in all: 30

KPCB has already blown through much of the $600 million it raised last year

06:32 | 30 January

Kleiner Perkins, one of the most storied franchises in venture capital, has already invested much of the $600 million it raised last year and is now going back out to the market to raise its 19th fund, according to multiple sources.

The firm, which underwent a significant restructuring over the last two years, went on an investment tear over the course of 2019 as new partners went out to build up a new portfolio for the firm — almost of a whole cloth.

A spokesperson for KPCB declined to comment on the firm’s fundraising plans citing SEC regulations.

The quick turnaround for KPCB is indicative of a broader industry trend, which has investors pulling the trigger on term sheets for new startups in days rather than weeks.

Speaking onstage at the Upfront Summit, an event at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. organized by the Los Angeles-based venture firm Upfront Ventures as a showcase for technology and investment talent in Southern California, venture investor Josh Kopelman spoke to the heightened pace of dealmaking at his own firm.

The founder of First Round Ventures said that the average time from first contact with a startup to drawing up a term sheet has collapsed from 90 days in 2004 to 9 days today.

 

“This could also be due to changes in the competitive landscape … and there may be changes with First Round Capital itself,” says one investor. “It may have been once upon a time that they were looking at really early raw stuff… But, today, First Round is not really in the first round anymore. Companies are raising some angel money or Y Combinator money.”

At KPCB, the once-troubled firm has been buoyed by recent exits in companies like Beyond Meat, a deal spearheaded by the firm’s former partner Amol Deshpande (who now serves as the chief executive of Farmers Business Network) and Slack.

And its new partners are clearly angling to make names for themselves.

“KP used to be a small team doing hands-on company building. We’re moving away from being this institution with multiple products and really just focusing on early-stage venture capital,” Kleiner Perkins  partner Ilya Fushman said when the firm announced its last fund.

Kleiner Perkins partner Ilya Fushman

“We went out to market to LPs. We got a lot of interest. We were significantly oversubscribed,” Fushman said of the firm’s raise at the time.

In some ways, it’s likely the kind of rejuvenation that John Doerr was hoping for when he approached Social + Capital’s Chamath Palihapitiya about “acquiring” that upstart firm back in 2015.

At the time, as Fortune reported, Palihapitiya and the other Social + Capital partners, Ted Maidenberg and Mamoon Hamid would have become partners in the venture firm under the terms of the proposed deal.

Instead, Social + Capital walked away, the firm eventually imploded and Hamid joined Kleiner Perkins two years later.

The new Kleiner Perkins is a much more streamlined operation. Gone are the sidecar and thematic funds that were a hallmark of earlier strategies and gone too are the superstars brought in by Mary Meeker to manage Kleiner Perkins’ growth equity investments. Meeker absconded with much of that late stage investment team to form Bond — and subsequently raised hundreds of millions of dollars herself.

Those strategies have been replaced by a clutch of young investors and seasoned Kleiner veterans including Ted Schlein who has long been an expert in enterprise software and security.

“Maybe at this point they think they can raise based on the whole story about Mamoon taking over and a few years from now they won’t be able to raise on that story and will have to raise on the results,” says one investor with knowledge of the industry. “Mamoon is a pretty legit, good investor. But the legacy of the firm is going to be tough to overcome.”

All of these changes are not necessarily sitting well with limited partners.

“LPs are not really happy about what’s going on,” says one investor with knowledge of the venture space. “Everybody thinks valuations are too high since 2011 and people are thinking there’s going to be a recession. LPs think funds are coming back to market too fast and they’re being greedy and there’s not enough vintage diversification but LPs … feel almost obligated that they have to do these things… Investing in Sequoia is like that saying that you don’t get fired for buying IBM .”

 


0

Atomico Partner Tom Wehmeier reviews ‘The State of European Tech’ 2019 report

01:33 | 3 December

Atomico, the European venture capital firm founded by Skype’s Niklas Zennström, has released its latest annual The State of European Tech report, published in partnership with Slush and Orrick.

As part of the report, the authors surveyed 5,000 members of the ecosystem — including 1,000 founders — as well as pulling in robust data from other sources, such as Dealroom and the London Stock Exchange .

This year, the report reveals that the European tech ecosystem continues to mature and shows no sign of slowing — particularly highlighting the contrast from five years ago when the The State of European Tech report made its debut. Almost every key indicator is up and to the right, except, rather depressingly, diversity.

The data shows, for example, that competition for talent and access to the best founders has increased ferociously. And from a funding perspective, European founders have more choice than ever, especially with U.S. and Asian VC firms investing more and more in the region. Progress with gender diversity stalled, however, such as 92% of funding going to all-male teams.

I caught up with the report’s author Tom Wehmeier, Partner and Head of Insights at Atomico (also sometimes jokingly referred to as the “Mary Meeker of Europe”), where we discuss in more detail some of the key findings and why, it seems, that the rest of the world has finally woken up to Europe’s tech potential.

But first, a few headlines from the report:

  • European technology companies are on track to raise a record 30$B+ in funding in 2019, up from $25B the year before. (Source: Dealroom)
  • Despite failing to match the level of venture-backed exits of 2018, there was a record number of 40 $100M-plus deals as of September 2019, a size that many European tech sceptics did not believe was possible. (Source: Dealroom)
  • A number of multi-billion-dollar non-venture backed companies like Nexi and Trainline made their debut on the public markets.
  • European tech policymaking remains a mystery to many European founders.
  • When asked to describe the top priority of the European Commission in terms of tech policy, 40% of founders and startup employees say they don’t feel informed enough to comment. (Source: survey)
  • Despite this reported lack of awareness on policy issues, all respondents voted EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager as the person who had the most influence on European tech in 2019, good or bad. (Source: survey)
  • European parliamentarians aren’t talking about fintech and digital health, two sectors which investors poured a combined $12.7bn into last year (Source: Politico and Dealroom)
  • Europe’s diversity figures are still grim reading.
  • In 2019, 92% of funding went to all-male teams, a similar level to 2018. (Source: Dealroom)
  • There is still only one woman CTO in the 119 companies (<1%) based on a sample of executives in CxO positions at 251 European VC-backed tech companies that raised a Series A or B round between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019 with more than $10M funding, even though 7.5% of software engineers are women. (Source: Stack Overflow, Craft, Dealroom)
  • Looking beyond gender diversity, ethnic minorities in tech experienced discrimination at a much high rate than white peers. (Source: survey)
  • At least 80% of Black/African/Caribbean respondents who reported experiencing discrimination linked it to their ethnicity. (Source: survey)
  • 63% of women VCs reported increased focus on attending events with stronger participation from diverse founders. The corresponding number for men VCs was only 33% of female respondents suggested that their male counterparts are leaving female VCs to fix Europe’s diversity problem. (Source: survey)
  • European founders aren’t just aiming for commercial success — they are trying to solve some of the world’s largest problems.
  • One in five European founders states that their company is already measuring its societal and/or environmental impact. (Source: survey)
  • Only 14% of founders don’t believe it’s relevant for their company. Founders that are women are much more likely to be advanced in their approach to measuring impact. (Source: survey)
  • Employees are placing a greater emphasis on corporate social responsibility, with 57% citing its importance in the State of European Tech survey. (Source: survey)

Extra Crunch: It is 5 years since Atomico published the first The State of European Tech report, which really attempted to capture a data-driven snapshot of the entire ecosystem. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen within European tech in the intertwining years or in this year in particular?

Tom Wehmeier: If I think back to when we did the first report, people who believe that Europe could actually be an interesting player in global technology, were largely limited to people who were in the tech industry in Europe itself. If you then fast forward to today, what has clearly happened — and I think 2019 was the year where this really materialized and became part of the narrative — was that belief translating from people on the inside to a bunch of people that were on the outside.

Most obviously has been the strength of interest from from the U.S. and the number of top-tier U.S. funds that are not just increasing their level of investment activity but committing to spending more and more time here on the ground, hiring people, building teams, building a network, and getting to know companies. I think it probably surprises people to know that 19% of all rounds this year will involve at least one U.S. investor in Europe, which is more than double since since the first year we did the report.

I think the other thing, where I come back to this idea that now we have finally convinced a certain group of people about the role that Europe can play, is mainstream institutional investors. I know it is not going to be lost on you, [but] this is going to be another record year for VC fund raising from Europe. And whilst the headline numbers might not be a surprise, I think what should catch people’s attention is that the composition of the LP base here in Europe is now shifting. And finally, there’s an unlocking of institutional investors, [by which] I mean pension funds, funds of funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, who are committing to European VC at levels that are significantly increased and elevated from where they had been in the past. So, if you just take pension funds, we’re going to see close to a billion dollars invested which is up nearly three fold.

It’s a validation of what’s happening around European tech to see that now coming through and I think is ultimately something that helps to build a foundation for the next five years of success. As much as this is a report that’s looking back, it’s also about trying to understand where things go from here.

With regards to the pension funds, do you think that is driven by the general bullishness towards European tech, or do you think it’s more the macro economic reality that maybe other places where they could put their money aren’t very attractive at the moment?

I think it’s really a reflection that there’s a strong level of belief that European venture as an asset class is an attractive investment opportunity. And that is reflected by the numbers. One of the charts that we’ve got in the report is from Cambridge Associates who do the benchmarking for the VC indices… And when you look back over a 1, 3, 5, or even a 10 year horizon, the performance from European VC is demonstrating that this is a place where for anyone building a diversified portfolio, they should have some allocation. I think it’s fundamentally the strength of the investment opportunity. That is the single biggest driver for why you’re seeing this happen.

I think the biggest thing that Europe has been able to prove is that it can take a great idea and turn it into a great company and that company can scale to not just a billion dollar outcome but to a multi-billion dollar outcome and go all the way through into an IPO or into a large scale acquisition. What you’ve seen happen in 2019 is in part A reflection of what happened last year where it was obviously this record year with Spotify, Adyen, Farfetch, Elastic and others that really showed you can go full cycle from start all the way to finish. And that the magnitude of those outcomes can be at a scale that makes them globally relevant.

Are the pension funds shifting their allocation of VC away from other geographies or are they just doing more VC as a whole?

 


0

Alexa, where are the legal limits on what Amazon can do with my health data?

13:46 | 24 October

The contract between the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and ecommerce giant Amazon — for a health information licensing partnership involving its Alexa voice AI — has been released following a Freedom of Information request.

The government announced the partnership this summer. But the date on the contract, which was published on the gov.uk contracts finder site months after the FOI was filed, shows the open-ended arrangement to funnel nipped-and-tucked health advice from the NHS’ website to Alexa users in audio form was inked back in December 2018.

The contract is between the UK government and Amazon US (Amazon Digital Services, Delaware) — rather than Amazon UK. 

Nor is it a standard NHS Choices content syndication contract. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed the legal agreement uses an Amazon contract template. She told us the department had worked jointly with Amazon to adapt the template to fit the intended use — i.e. access to publicly funded healthcare information from the NHS’ website.

The NHS does make the same information freely available on its website, of course. As well as via API — to some 1,500 organizations. But Amazon is not just any organization; It’s a powerful US platform giant with a massive ecommerce business.

The contract reflects that power imbalance; not being a standard NHS content syndication agreement — but rather DHSC tweaking Amazon’s standard terms.

“It was drawn up between both Amazon UK and the Department for Health and Social Care,” a department spokeswoman told us. “Given that Amazon is in the business of holding standard agreements with content providers they provided the template that was used as the starting point for the discussions but it was drawn up in negotiation with the Department for Health and Social Care, and obviously it was altered to apply to UK law rather than US law.”

In July, when the government officially announced the Alexa-NHS partnership, its PR provided a few sample queries of how Amazon’s voice AI might respond to what it dubbed “NHS-verified” information — such as: “Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?”; “Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?”; “Alexa, what are the symptoms of chickenpox?”.

But of course as anyone who’s ever googled a health symptom could tell you, the types of stuff people are actually likely to ask Alexa — once they realize they can treat it as an NHS-verified info-dispensing robot, and go down the symptom-querying rabbit hole — is likely to range very far beyond the common cold.

At the official launch of what the government couched as a ‘collaboration’ with Amazon, it explained its decision to allow NHS content to be freely piped through Alexa by suggesting that voice technology has “the potential to reduce the pressure on the NHS and GPs by providing information for common illnesses”.

Its PR cited an unattributed claim that “by 2020, half of all searches are expected to be made through voice-assisted technology”.

This prediction is frequently attributed to ComScore, a media measurement firm that was last month charged with fraud by the SEC. However it actually appears to originate with computer scientist Andrew Ng, from when he was chief scientist at Chinese tech giant Baidu.

Econsultancy noted last year that Mary Meeker included Ng’s claim on a slide in her 2016 Internet Trends report — which is likely how the prediction got so widely amplified.

But on Meeker’s slide you can see that the prediction is in fact “images or speech”, not voice alone…

Screenshot 2019 10 24 at 10.04.40

So it turns out the UK government incorrectly cited a tech giant prediction to push a claim that “voice search has been increasing rapidly” — in turn its justification for funnelling NHS users towards Amazon.

“We want to empower every patient to take better control of their healthcare and technology like this is a great example of how people can access reliable, world-leading NHS advice from the comfort of their home, reducing the pressure on our hardworking GPs and pharmacists,” said health secretary Matt Hancock in a July statement.

Since landing at the health department, the app-loving former digital minister has been pushing a tech-first agenda for transforming the NHS — promising to plug in “healthtech” apps and services, and touting “preventative, predictive and personalised care”. He’s also announced an AI lab housed within a new unit that’s intended to oversee the digitization of the NHS.

Compared with all that, plugging the NHS’ website into Alexa probably seems like an easy ‘on-message’ win. But immediately the collaboration was announced concerns were raised that the government is recklessly mixing the streams of critical (and sensitive) national healthcare infrastructure with the rapacious data-appetite of a foreign tech giant with both an advertising and ecommerce business, plus major ambitions of its own in the healthcare space.

On the latter front, just yesterday news broke of Amazon’s second health-related acquisition: Health Navigator, a startup with an API platform for integrating with health services, such as telemedicine and medical call centers, which offers natural language processing tools for documenting health complaints and care recommendations.

Last year Amazon also picked up online pharmacy PillPack — for just under $1BN. While last month it launched a pilot of a healthcare service offering to its own employees in and around Seattle, called Amazon Care. That looks intended to be a road-test for addressing the broader U.S. market down the line. So the company’s commercial designs on healthcare are becoming increasingly clear.

Returning to the UK, in response to early critical feedback on the Alexa-NHS arrangement, the IT delivery arm of the service, NHS Digital, published a blog post going into more detail about the arrangement — following what it couched as “interesting discussion about the challenges for the NHS of working with large commercial organisations like Amazon”.

A core critical “discussion” point is the question of what Amazon will do with people’s medical voice query data, given the partnership is clearly encouraging people to get used to asking Alexa for health advice.

“We have stuck to the fundamental principle of not agreeing a way of working with Amazon that we would not be willing to consider with any single partner – large or small. We have been careful about data, commercialisation, privacy and liability, and we have spent months working with knowledgeable colleagues to get it right,” NHS Digital claimed in July.

In another section of the blog post, responding to questions about what Amazon will do with the data and “what about privacy”, it further asserted there would be no health profiling of customers — writing:

We have worked with the Amazon team to ensure that we can be totally confident that Amazon is not sharing any of this information with third parties. Amazon has been very clear that it is not selling products or making product recommendations based on this health information, nor is it building a health profile on customers. All information is treated with high confidentiality. Amazon restrict access through multi-factor authentication, services are all encrypted, and regular audits run on their control environment to protect it.

Yet it turns out the contract DHSC signed with Amazon is just a content licensing agreement. There are no terms contained in it concerning what can or can’t be done with the medical voice query data Alexa is collecting with the help of “NHS-verified” information.

Per the contract terms, Amazon is required to attribute content to the NHS when Alexa responds to a query with information from the service’s website. (Though the company says Alexa also makes use of medical content from the Mayo Clinic and Wikipedia.) So, from the user’s point of view, they will at times feel like they’re talking to an NHS-branded service.

But without any legally binding confidentiality clauses around what can be done with their medical voice queries it’s not clear how NHS Digital can confidently assert that Amazon isn’t creating health profiles.

The situation seems to sum to, er, trust Amazon. (NHS Digital wouldn’t comment; saying it’s only responsible for delivery not policy setting, and referring us to the DHSC.)

Asked what it does with medical voice query data generated as a result of the NHS collaboration an Amazon spokesperson told us: “We do not build customer health profiles based on interactions with nhs.uk content or use such requests for marketing purposes.”

But the spokesperson could not point to any legally binding contract clauses in the licensing agreement that restrict what Amazon can do with people’s medical queries.

We’ve also asked the company to confirm whether medical voice queries that return NHS content are being processed in the US.

“This collaboration only provides content already available on the NHS.UK website, and absolutely no personal data is being shared by NHS to Amazon or vice versa,” Amazon also told us, eliding the key point that it’s not NHS data being shared with Amazon but NHS users, reassured by the presence of a trusted public brand, being encouraged to feed Alexa sensitive personal data by asking about their ailments and health concerns.

Bizarrely, the Department of Health and Social Care went further. Its spokeswoman claimed in an email that “there will be no data shared, collected or processed by Amazon and this is just an alternative way of providing readily available information from NHS.UK.”

When we spoke to DHSC on the phone prior to this, to raise the issue of medical voice query data generated via the partnership and fed to Amazon — also asking where in the contract are clauses to protect people’s data — the spokeswoman said she would have to get back to us.

All of which suggests the government has a very vague idea (to put it generously) of how cloud-powered voice AIs function.

Presumably no one at DHSC bothered to read the information on Amazon’s own Alexa privacy page — although the department spokeswomen was at least aware this page existed (because she knew Amazon had pointed us to what she called its “privacy notice”, which she said “sets out how customers are in control of their data and utterances”).

If you do read the page you’ll find Amazon offers some broad-brush explanation there which tells you that after an Alexa device has been woken by its wake word, the AI will “begin recording and sending your request to Amazon’s secure cloud”.

Ergo data is collected and processed. And indeed stored on Amazon’s servers. So, yes, data is ‘shared’.

The more detailed Alexa Internet Privacy Notice, meanwhile, sets out broad-brush parameters to enable Amazon’s reuse of Alexa user data — stating that “the information we learn from users helps us personalize and continually improve your Alexa experience and provide information about Internet trends, website popularity and traffic, and related content”. [emphasis ours]

The DHSC sees the matter very differently, though.

With no contractual binds covering health-related queries UK users of Alexa are being encouraged to whisper into Amazon’s robotic ears — data that’s naturally linked to Alexa and Amazon account IDs (and which the Alexa Internet Privacy Notice also specifies can be accessed by “a limited number of employees”) — the government is accepting the tech giant’s standard data processing terms for a commercial, consumer product which is deeply integrated into its increasingly sprawling business empire.

Terms such as indefinite retention of audio recordings — unless users pro-actively request that they are deleted. And even then Amazon admitted this summer it doesn’t always delete the text transcripts of recordings. So even if you keep deleting all your audio snippets, traces of medical queries may well remain on Amazon’s servers.

Earlier this year it also emerged the company employs contractors around the world to listen in to Alexa recordings as part of internal efforts to improve the performance of the AI.

A number of tech giants recently admitted to the presence of such ‘speech grading’ programs, as they’re sometimes called — though none had been up front and transparent about the fact their shiny AIs needed an army of external human eavesdroppers to pull off a show of faux intelligence.

It’s been journalists highlighting the privacy risks for users of AI assistants; and media exposure leading to public pressure on tech giants to force changes to concealed internal processes that have, by default, treated people’s information as an owned commodity that exists to serve and reserve their own corporate interests.

Data protection? Only if you interpret the term as meaning your personal data is theirs to capture and that they’ll aggressively defend the IP they generate from it.

So, in other words, actual humans — both employed by Amazon directly and not — may be listening to the medical stuff you’re telling Alexa. Unless the user finds and activates a recently added ‘no human review’ option buried in Alexa settings.

Many of these arrangements remain under regulatory scrutiny in Europe. Amazon’s lead data protection regulator in Europe confirmed in August it’s in discussions with it over concerns related to its manual reviews of Alexa recordings. So UK citizens — whose taxes fund the NHS — might be forgiven for expecting more care from their own government around such a ‘collaboration’.

Rather than a wholesale swallowing of tech giant T&Cs in exchange for free access to the NHS brand and  “NHS-verified” information which helps Amazon burnish Alexa’s utility and credibility, allowing it to gather valuable insights for its commercial healthcare ambitions.

To date there has been no recognition from DHSC the government has a duty of care towards NHS users as regards potential risks its content partnership might generate as Alexa harvests their voice queries via a commercial conduit that only affords users very partial controls over what happens to their personal data.

Nor is DHSC considering the value being generously gifted by the state to Amazon — in exchange for a vague supposition that a few citizens might go to the doctor a bit less if a robot tells them what flu symptoms look like.

“The NHS logo is supposed to mean something,” says Sam Smith, coordinator at patient data privacy advocacy group, MedConfidential — one of the organizations that makes use of the NHS’ free APIs for health content (but which he points out did not write its own contract for the government to sign).

“When DHSC signed Amazon’s template contract to put the NHS logo on anything Amazon chooses to do, it left patients to fend for themselves against the business model of Amazon in America.”

In a related development this week, Europe’s data protection supervisor has warned of serious data protection concerns related to standard contracts EU institutions have inked with another tech giant, Microsoft, to use its software and services.

The watchdog recently created a strategic forum that’s intended to bring together the region’s public administrations to work on drawing up standard contracts with fairer terms for the public sector — to shrink the risk of institutions feeling outgunned and pressured into accepting T&Cs written by the same few powerful tech providers.

Such an effort is sorely needed — though it comes too late to hand-hold the UK government into striking more patient-sensitive terms with Amazon US.

 


0

Relativity, a new star in the space race, raises $160 million for its 3-D printed rockets

17:01 | 1 October

With $160 million in new financing, Relativity Space is now one step closer to fulfilling its founders’ vision of making the first rockets on Mars.

Tagging along for the ride are a motley assortment of millionaires and billionaires, movie stars and media moguls that are providing the money the rocket launch services provider and manufacturer of large-scale, 3-D printers needs to achieve its goals.

The new financing will give Relativity the cash to fully build its “Stargate” factory, a semi-autonomous, full-scale production facility that will house the company’s massive 3-D printers and produce its first rocket, the Terran 1.

Using its proprietary printing technology, Relativity says it can slash the time it takes to develop a rocket from design to launch by up to two years. Manufacturing can be done within 60 days, according to the company’s claims, and its vehicles have a payload capacity of up to 1250 kilograms (SpaceX’s largest rockets will have roughly 100 times that payload capacity).

Space startups and established companies alike are now rocketing forward with plans to support the race to establish a foothold on the surface of the Moon as a first step toward getting humanity’s first footsteps on Mars.

Even as Relativity was finalizing the details of this new financing round, Elon Musk was unveiling new details . about his Starship, designed to carry heavy payloads to the Moon and Mars; and NASA began doling out cash to companies that would provide transportation, infrastructure, and support for future lunar missions.

For now, Relativity remains focused on the clear, near-term business opportunity of getting more satellites into the Earth’s orbit for telecommunications companies.

The financiers funding the company’s plans are a mix of Silicon Valley venture capital firms and members of Hollywood’s elite, which is only fitting for a company whose headquarters are in Los Angeles, but whose business takes it to the far flung research centers and launch facilities which support the U.S. space industry.

From Hollywood, Relativity has managed to coax cash from the founder of the Creative Artists Agency, Michael Ovitz, and the Academy Award-winning actor Jared Leto (whose venture capital portfolio is as impressive as it is diverse). Zillow co-founder Spencer Rascoff and Lee Fixel, the former superstar investor for Tiger Global, are also on board.

The two firms leading the deal are Bond Capital, a relatively new growth capital investment firm co-founded by the celebrated Wall Street financial analyst, Mary Meeker, and former private equity investor, Noah Knauf (after their stint running KPCB’s growth capital arm); and Tribe Capital, which was formed in the wake of the dissolution of Social Capital.

Screen Shot 2019 10 01 at 6.26.03 AM

Relativity Space chief technology officer Jordan Noone next to one of the company’s 3-D printers

If anything, the presence of a growth capital investment firm like Bond, which has not invested in companies operating in what some investors have considered to be frontier markets or technologies, speaks to the strength of the space industry as a whole.

“Our entire investment strategy is to invest at the inflection points where things cross over from froniter to mainstream investments,” says Knauf. “We’ve spoken to what amounts to billions of dollars in potential demand for the company over time… They need a faster, better, cheaper solution.”

Some of Bond’s fears are likely alleviated by the fact that Relativity has already signed a number of agreements with satellite companies looking to get their equipment into space. To date, Relativity has publicly announced contracts with four vendors including: Telesat and Mu Space for their low earth orbit constellations, and Spaceflight and Momentus, which provide ride-share and in-space shuttle positioning services for small and medium-sized satellites.

And, over the past year, the company has been steadily building out launch and manufacturing infrastructure to support its lofty ambitions and initial customers.

Relativity has already built fully printed first and second stage structures; assembled the second stage of the Terran 1;  completed its first turbopump tests; and conducted more than 200 engine hotfire tests at its facility in NASA’s Stennis Space Center. Relativity has also completed tests of its avionics architecture and hardware and conducted an analysis of the vehicle’s design and coupled loads.

Relativity’s launch, manufacturing and test facilities are spread among Cape Canaveral, NASA’s Stennis Space Center and the company’s Los Angeles headquarters. The company expects to secure a polar and Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) capable launch site by the end of 2019.

It also doesn’t hurt that the company has developed sophisticated manufacturing technologies that have terrestrial applications, if the rocket business fails to take off.

The fit here is perfect for rockets and perfect for aerospace categories,” Knauf says of the company’s proprietary 3-D printing technology. “These guys have built the world’s largest 3-D printer.” 

Those printers and the software-defined, flexible manufacturing capabilities that they enable have massive value on their own, but Relativity co-founders Tim Ellis (a former Blue Origin employee) and Jordan Noone (who worked at SpaceX previously) are focused on building and launching their own rockets — on Earth and eventually on Mars.

“We’re really really truly focused on the rockets for now,” says Ellis. “Being an application layer company is what’s more interesting … [and] we’re seeing so much demand for the rocket launches.”

Ellis also has his eyes fixed beyond the low Earth orbit launch services that the company currently provides. “We’re building the future of humanity space,” he says. “Everyone is on board with this vision of 3-D printing . on Mars.”

Screen Shot 2019 10 01 at 6.26.39 AM

Relativity Space co-founders Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone (Image courtesy of Relativity Space)

 


0

Nextdoor adds new funding from Mary Meeker’s Bond, closes growth round at $170M

18:59 | 10 September

Social networking platform for neighbors, Nextdoor, today announced it has secured additional funding to close out its $170 million growth round. The new financing includes the $123 million Nextdoor raised in May from new investor Riverwood Capital along with existing investors Benchmark, Tiger Global Management and Kleiner Perkins. The additional funding announced today comes from Mary Meeker’s tech investment firm, Bond.

As a result of the new investment, Meeker will join Nextdoor’s board.

Meeker had left Kleiner Perkins last year, where she was well-known for her popular Internet Trends Report, released annually. She has since founded Bond, taking Kleiner’s entire former growth team with her, and raised $1.25 billion for Bond’s debut growth fund. 

As of the May 2019 round, Nextdoor was valued at $2.1 billion for its neighborhood-level networking platform which today generates revenue from sponsored posts and its real estate vertical for local agents. The company had said it was on track to double its revenue in 2019.

We understand the valuation remains at $2.1 billion, even with the additional funding.

Since its 2010 founding, the Nextdoor platform has grown to over 247,000 neighborhoods across 10 countries. Its international growth potential appears to be of interest to Meeker, as does the verification process Nextdoor uses to ensure its users actually live in the neighborhoods they join.

This is not how Facebook’s Groups product works, where verification is left up to individual Group admins. That results in neighboorhood groups filled with people who are just looking to research the area, those who used to live there but have since moved, businesses looking to advertise to locals, people who live nearby but don’t have a neighborhood group of their own, and various other non-neighbors.

“Nextdoor has proven itself as the leader in local connectivity. Nextdoor is built on trust – verifying each members’ name, address, and neighborhood – which creates the transparency and accountability that is core to building communities,” Meeker said. “Nextdoor is connecting people to the information and services that matter most, and I am excited to work with this impressive team to help expand Nextdoor’s local utility as well as it’s growing global footprint,” she added.

In recent months, Nextdoor has also grown its team with new hires Antonio Silveira as its head of engineering; Tatyana Mamut, head of product; Bryan Power, head of people; and Craig Lisowski, head of data, information systems and trust.

“We could not be more thrilled to welcome Bond to our family of investors. Mary Meeker has been a strong supporter of Nextdoor for many years and is deeply knowledgeable about consumer technology,” stated Sarah Friar, CEO of Nextdoor, in a statement. “At Nextdoor, we believe that change starts with each of us opening our front doors and building deeper connections with the people nearest to us: our neighbors. We’re thrilled and honored to partner with all of our forward-looking investors to catalyze neighbors’ ability to connect with relevant local conversations, organizations, and businesses, engage in real-world interactions, and unlock the global power of local.”

 

 


0

Fresh off a $2.65B valuation, Plaid co-founder William Hockey is leaving

21:28 | 18 June

William Hockey, co-founder, chief technology officer and president of the fast-growing fintech business Plaid, will step down next week, TechCrunch has learned.

The former Bain Capital associate (pictured above left) co-founded the startup in 2012 alongside chief executive officer Zach Perret. Today, the San Francisco-based company employs 300 with additional offices in Salt Lake City and New York.

Plaid has confirmed the news, stating that Hockey will remain on the company’s board of directors.

“This conclusion was neither a rash nor a recent decision,” Hockey writes in a blog post shared with TechCrunch. “Over the past couple of years I have known that there would come a point at which I would choose to move to a purely strategic and advisorial role.”

Plaid builds infrastructure that allows consumers to interact with their bank account on the web, powering a number of third-party applications, like Venmo, Robinhood, Coinbase, Acorns and LendingClub. It rose to prominence recently, closing a $250 million Series C investment at a $2.65 billion valuation late last year. The deal was led by famed venture capitalist and author of the Internet Trends report Mary Meeker, who’s joined the startup’s board of directors.

In total, Plaid has secured $310 million in venture capital funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Coatue Management, Goldman Sachs, NEA, Spark Capital and others.

Plaid has integrated with 10,000 banks in the U.S. and Canada and says 25% of people living in those countries with bank accounts have linked with Plaid through at least one of the hundreds of apps that leverage Plaid’s application program interfaces (APIs) — an increase from 13% last year. Last month, the company launched its fintech platform in the U.K.

“As we’ve done in the U.S., Plaid will become the foundation for that growth by providing access to a financial network that allows developers to deliver the experience users expect from their financial apps,” the company wrote in a blog post.

TechCrunch participated in a panel discussion with Hockey and Brex CEO Henrique Dubugras last month, in which Hockey gave no indication of impending plans to leave the business. In fact, taking off just as Plaid amps up its global expansion efforts and accelerates growth is strange timing for a founder to leave.

Oftentimes, when a startup co-founder steps down from the C-suite, it’s to make room for a more experienced executive to lead the company through periods of fast growth. Recently, for example, Lime announced its co-founder Toby Sun would transition out of the CEO role to focus on company culture and R&D. Brad Bao, a Lime co-founder and longtime Tencent executive, assumed chief responsibilities.

Other times, it comes amid turmoil. Mike Cagney’s departure from SoFi, of course, is an example of this. One month after reports of a sexual harassment and wrongful termination lawsuit against the online lending business surfaced, SoFi announced Cagney would step down.

In Hockey’s case, the move was planned and calculated, he said.

“In tech, it has historically been taboo to talk about founders or executives transitioning to different roles inside companies,” Hockey writes. “Leadership transitions need to become a bedrock of any company that desires to endure across decades.”

 


0

Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends report highlights China’s short-form videos and super apps

11:37 | 12 June

This year’s edition of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report, released earlier today, once again included a section on China prepared by Hillhouse Capital. There are now 3.8 billion Internet users globally, more than half of the world’s population, but growth is slowing (as demonstrated by declining smartphone shipments). Internet leaders in China can continue helping companies in other countries find ways to engage their users, the way WeChat launched features, including mini-programs and e-commerce, that are now ubiquitous in messaging and social media apps around the world.

China has the most internet users in the world, about 800,000,000 or 21% of the world’s total internet users (it is followed by India, the United States and Indonesia). Chinese companies took seven of the top 30 spots for internet market cap leaders: Alibaba, Tencent, Meituan Dianping, JD.com, Baidu, NetEase and Xiaomi—stable, just one less than one year.

Mobile Internet users in China grew 9% year-over-year in 2018 to 817 million, while mobile data usage increased 189% year-over-year, faster than 2017’s 162% growth. While data volume share (or new data captured, generated and replicated by region) is falling in the U.S., it is rising in China, second in growth only to EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa).

In particular, this year’s report highlighted short-form videos as a key driver of Internet usage growth in China, leading user and usage growth across all app categories. Users spent a total of nearly 600 million hours per day watching short-form videos on mobile in April 2019, more than in any other category. Short-form video leaders included Douyin (known as Tik Tok in international markets), Kuaishou and Haokan.

Another major video trend is live-streaming, especially for e-commerce platforms. Taobao got more than $14 billion GMV through live-streaming in 2018, while fashion e-commerce and social media platform Mogu attributed 24% of its GMV to live-streaming, which also had a four times repeat purchase rate.

While WeChat’s mini-programs have already influenced other apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Kakao and Line, there is still plenty to learn from them. For example, the role they play as CRMs for many Chinese retailers: many brands send information about sales and other promotions by public accounts on WeChat or send red packets for discounts to group chats to drive engagement.

The rise of the “super app”

Meituan Dianping’s “super app” is growing increasingly huge. It now includes more than 30 services (for example, restaurant reviews, reservations, movie tickets, home rentals, hotel bookings, payments, travel booking, food delivery and grocery ordering), although restaurant-related services and travel make up as much as 88% of its revenue. The company’s annual transacting users grew 26% year-over-year to 412 million.

Alipay has also evolved from a payments app to hosting more than 200,000 mini-programs, including ones that enable users to manage their healthcare, investments, invoices, car payments and insurance. Alipay now counts more than one billion users, 70% of whom use at least three financial services in the app.

The influence of these “super apps” can be seen outside of China in apps like Grab, Rappi and Uber, which are adding more services (for example, Uber’s app now lets you order food, reserve e-bikes and find promotions at other businesses).

From offline to online 

Another trend that may make its way to other countries is the wide variety of business models used by grocery delivery apps in China. In the U.S., most grocery delivery apps take one of two approaches, either partnering with retailers and delivering groceries from their brick-and-mortar stores to users (like Instacart) or delivering from their own stores or warehouses, like Amazon Prime Now and Whole Foods.

In China, on the other hand, grocery delivery apps are divided into four business models. Some, like Alibaba’s Freshippo (Hema) and JD.com’s 7 Fresh, own, operate and offer delivery or pickup from their own stores, while others like Miss Fresh and Dindong Maicai, deliver from their own warehouses, using their own fulfillment systems. A third group, including Xingsheng Youxuan, Songshu Pinpin and Dailubo, works with local franchised partners and allows users to order or make group purchases in WeChat mini-programs for next-day delivery or pick up. The fourth group offers quick deliveries from retail partners and includes big companies like Meituan, Alibaba’s Ele.me and Taoxianda, and JD.

Riding the same offline-to-online wave, educators are digitizing classes that were traditionally taught in person. Online tutoring has hit the mainstream as K-12 students embrace homework apps to get afterschool help. Similarly, parents sign their younger children (ages 3-10) up for English and coding classes hosted on smartphones.

The Chinese government has also gone digital and is increasingly offering public services through in-house apps and third-party super apps such as WeChat and Alipay. The list of tasks that citizens can complete on their phones includes applying for visas, paying utility bills, virtually queuing up at hospitals, renewing a driver’s license, and many more that can save people the hassle of hopping from one government office to another.

 


0

Brex valued at $2.6B with new cash from Kleiner Perkins

16:00 | 11 June

Reports published late last month indicated Brex, the fast-growing fintech startup, was raising yet another round. Today, the San Francisco-based company is confirming it’s closed on $100 million in Series C-2 funding at a valuation of $2.6 billion.

Kleiner Perkins has lead the round via former general partner Mood Rowghani, who left the fund last year to form Bond alongside Mary Meeker and Noah Knauf. Existing investors DST Global, IVP, Y Combinator and Greenoaks Capital have also participated in the round. 

The Y Combinator graduate, which provides corporate cards tailored for startups, is also announcing the launch of its third product: a card made specifically for life sciences companies. With a focus on pharmaceutical, biotech and cosmetic businesses, Brex has customized its underwriting model for the life sciences sector and crafted targeted rewards, including cash back on lab supplies and conference fees.

Brex’s funding history

March 2017: Brex graduates Y Combinator
April 2017: $6.5M Series A | $25M valuation
April 2018: $50M Series B | $220M valuation
October 2018: $125M Series C | $1.1B valuation
June 2019: $100M Series C-2 | $2.6B valuation

 

Brex’s valuation has grown significantly from $1.1 billion just eight months ago. Why? Brex co-founder and chief executive officer Henrique Dubugras cites an expanded total addressable market (TAM).

“When we raised our last round, Brex was doing well within the startup market … but there was still a question from investors of whether Brex could expand outside of startups into a broader market,” Dubugras tells TechCrunch. “[Ecommerce] did really well really quickly … What that meant for investors is that Brex could not only win at startups but we could also win at other types of businesses that are more traditional.”

In February, Brex released its second product, the credit cards made specifically for ecommerce companies referenced above. The card, which “enables online brands and retailers to bypass the problems of legacy banking systems,” has been a huge success for Brex, Dubugras said. In just a few months time, it’s multiplied Brex’s TAM and become responsible for one-third of the business’s revenue.

Since its last fundraise, Brex has also launched a rewards program for customers and closed its first notable acquisition.

Like many startups raising capital today, Brex wasn’t in need of the cash. Dubugras notes the Series C-2 was more of a “repricing event” than a necessary fundraise.

We haven’t touched our money from the Series C yet,” he said. “For us, this round is a repricing event for the company that helps with recruiting.”

“The money will be set aside for risk management purposes in the sense that our banks — our partners — like us to have a lot of equity sitting there in case something goes wrong,” Dubugras added. “An important part of fintech is always being well-capitalized in case something goes wrong.”

 


0

Less than 1 year after launching its corporate card for startups, Brex eyes $2B valuation

02:55 | 30 May

Brex, the fintech business that’s taken the startup world by storm with its sought after corporate card tailored for entrepreneurs, is raising millions in Series D funding less than a year after it launched, TechCrunch has learned.

Bloomberg reports Brex is raising at a $2 billion valuation, though sources tell TechCrunch the company is still in negotiations with both new and existing investors. Brex didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Kleiner Perkins is leading the round via former general partner Mood Rowghani, who left the storied venture capital fund last year to form Bond alongside Mary Meeker and Noah Knauf. As we’ve previously reported, the Bond crew is still in the process of allocating capital out of Kleiner’s billion-dollar Digital Growth Fund III.

Bond, which recently closed on $1.25 billion for its debut effort and made its first investment, is not participating in the round for Brex, sources confirm to TechCrunch. Bond declined to comment.

Brex, a graduate of Y Combinator’s winter 2017 cohort, has raised $182 million in VC funding, reaching a valuation of $1.1 billion in October 2018 three months after launching its corporate card for startups and less than a year after completing YC’s accelerator program.

Most recently, Brex attracted a $125 million Series C investment led by Greenoaks Capital, DST Global and IVP. The startup is also backed by PayPal founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, and VC firms such as Ribbit Capital, Oneway Ventures and Mindset Ventures, according to PitchBook.

The company’s pace of growth is unheard of, even in Silicon Valley where inflated valuations and outsized rounds are the norm. Why? Brex has tapped into a market dominated by legacy players in dire need of technological innovation and, of course, startup founders always need access to credit. That, coupled with the fact that it’s capitalized on YC’s network of hundreds of startup founders — i.e. Brex customers — has accelerated its path to a multi-billion-dollar price tag.

Brex doesn’t require any kind of personal guarantee or security deposit from its customers, allowing founders near-instant access to credit. More importantly, it gives entrepreneurs a credit limit that’s as much as 10 times higher than what they would receive elsewhere.

Investors may also be enticed by the fact the company doesn’t use third-party legacy technology, boasting a software platform that is built from scratch. On top of that, Brex simplifies a lot of the frustrating parts of the corporate expense process by providing companies with a consolidated look at their spending.

“We have a very similar effect of what Stripe had in the beginning, but much faster because Silicon Valley companies are very good at spending money but making money is harder,” Brex co-founder and chief executive officer Henrique Dubugras told me late last year.

Stripe, for context, was founded in 2010. Not until 2014 did the company raise its unicorn round, landing a valuation of $1.75 billion with an $80 million financing. Today, Stripe has raised a total of roughly $1 billion at a valuation north of $20 billion.

Dubugras and Brex co-founder Pedro Franceschi, 23-year-old entrepreneurs, relocated from Brazil to Stanford in the fall of 2016 to attend the university. They dropped out upon getting accepted into YC, which they applied to with a big dreams for a virtual reality startup called Beyond. Beyond quickly became Brex, a name in which Dubugras recently told TechCrunch was chosen because it was one of few four-letter word domains available.

Brex’s funding history

March 2017: Brex graduates Y Combinator
April 2017: $6.5M Series A | $25M valuation
April 2018: $50M Series B | $220M valuation
October 2018: $125M Series C | $1.1B valuation
May 2019: undisclosed Series D | ~$2B valuation

In April, Brex secured a $100 million debt financing from Barclays Investment Bank. At the time, Dubugras told TechCrunch the business would not seek out venture investment in the near future, though he did comment that the debt capital would allow for a significant premium when Brex did indeed decide to raise capital again.

In 2019, Brex has taken steps several steps toward maturation.Recently, it launched a rewards program for customers and closed its first notable acquisition of a blockchain startup called Elph. Shortly after, Brex released its second product, a credit card made specifically for ecommerce companies.

Its upcoming infusion of capital will likely be used to develop payment services tailored to Fortune 500 business, which Dubugras has said is part of Brex’s long term plan to disrupt the entire financial technology space.

 


0

Getting a seat at the VC table

22:30 | 22 May

Monique Villa Contributor
Monique Villa is an investor at Mucker Capital, a seed and “pre-seed” stage fund investing in companies powering a software-enabled world. She is also the Founder of Nashville-based ModernCapital, a community of startup founders and ecosystem partners committed to company building in the Southeast (#BuildInSE).

We are witnessing the greatest paradigm shift in power since the advent of the venture capital industry. Since taking my first VC role in 2012, I’ve seen more change in the past year than all other years combined.

Six years after Ellen Pao’s landmark gender discrimination case against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Mary Meeker announced her departure to start a new fund with three other KPCB investors. Arlan Hamilton from Backstage Capital graced the cover of Fast Company with the caption “Venture Catalyst.” AllRaise’s circulation of a growing list of job postings is regularly hitting the inboxes of female investment talent climbing the check-writing ranks. To quote Seth Godin, “When you put the right idea into the world, people can’t unsee it.”

What does it mean to have a seat at the table, and how many of us have needed to bring our own chairs rather than wait for someone to offer us one?

Here are a few reflections on what having a seat at the investors’ table means to me:

Representation is a competitive advantage.

Venture has operated in many ways like a club since its inception, where deals are shared within small, private circles, often comprised of people with more in common than not. When investment decisions are made by people who are not representative of our population — instead representative of the interests of a very small percentage of the population (in ethnicity, culture, education, and socioeconomic status) — our economy suffers. In other words, fewer wants and needs are addressed by the goods and services in the market, creating less economic prosperity as a whole.

According to the NVCA and Pitchbook, the total investment into venture-backed companies reached $57 billion in just the first half of 2018. To put this into context, $57 billion is more than 114 countries can claim in GDP. Given just how much money is invested — an increasing figure each year as more venture money appears from new participants — we should be concerned that just 9% of U.S. VCs are women despite comprising 50.8% of the U.S. population and driving 70-80% of all consumer purchasing.

#ANGELS and Carta exposed a staggering new statistic that just 9% of company equity is held by women, despite women comprising 33% of the founder and employee workforce.

The private and public markets are waking up to the realization that representation matters. A 2015 McKinsey study found that “companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.” I’m in constant communication with a wide range of investors from established firms to new ones, and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive — having an investment team more representative of the population generates better deal flow. I have this conversation on a biweekly basis and know that the next generation of investors is watching to see what established VC firms are doing to remain competitive.

So, you ask, what’s next for venture capital?

Assimilation is a thing of the past.

I tried to blend in as much as possible when I first entered the venture world, not wanting to draw attention to the fact that I came from a very different background than the people I was interacting with. I didn’t know what ski week was, my parents didn’t belong to private clubs, and Ivy League schools were a distant concept. Yet, I found common ground with my new social circle because they were, in many respects, regular people with “access” broadly defined as the primary differentiator.

Fast forward to today, I see the greatest opportunity for those who are boldly unique. A seat at the table means I can be myself and draw upon my unique experiences to make decisions and support my portfolio companies in a way that only I can. Our industry thrives when contrarian views are developed over time and implemented without compromise. Conformity is the main villain when we decide to settle for the familiar, ultimately generating stagnant venture returns. After all, venture capital is, by definition, meant to be a high-risk asset class.

Safe environments matter. Full stop.

Having a seat at the table means I get to draw the line when male investors, entrepreneurs, and other industry voices choose to transgress or act inappropriately. I feel safe in assuming the male leadership I choose to invest in will have a lower probability of ruining their company due to issues with workplace culture and sexual abuse allegations.

As we witness one industry giant topple after another, spanning film and media, consumer brands, and investors, it has become increasingly apparent that poor judgment calls and mistreatment of talent will no longer be swept under the rug. I occasionally have meetings with entrepreneurs and fellow investors where you could say my “stranger danger” alarms are triggered by off-color comments and malapropos gestures. These are the instances where I will choose to avoid a situation or pass on a business opportunity that could, in time, become a ticking time bomb and, long-term, a poor investment.

There are no more rules.

A close friend in VC often states, “The new rule is: there are no rules.” This means new people arriving to the table, chair in hand, to direct investment decisions, whether top-down as a company builder or bottoms-up as a content creator and micro-influencer. No rules means new faces showing up as limited partners in VC funds, and new managers of VC funds sharing their own unique stories of building their less-conventional careers. No rules also means that VC firms are going to look, act, and feel different, throwing out convention in favor of creativity and inclusivity.

Build it and they will come.

Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital said it best during her 36|86 AMA in Nashville with The JumpFund: “We will make our own club!” I nearly fell out of my seat applauding, laughing, and cheering. My own interpretation of this statement has to do with the can-do energy that is showing up in venture. In 2018, we are no longer waiting for someone to save a seat for us at the table or invite us into the room at all. We are showing up with our own chairs, building new tables, and creating new spaces and environments that foster the exchanging of ideas and deal docs.

Early in 2018, I set out to learn more about the startup and venture capital landscape in my new home city of Nashville, Tennessee, and in the broader surrounding geography of the Southeastern U.S. I quickly found that the entrepreneurs and investors I met were surprised by me — a relatively young, half-Mexican, female face did not immediately trigger the words ‘venture’ and ‘capital’.

Questions followed, such as, “How did you end up in venture capital?” and statements like, “People must tell you all of the time that you don’t look like the typical VC.” A few minutes into the conversation and those questions and statements dissipate, though I knew there must be a broader local community sharing my interests and lack of conformity in physical appearance and style. So, I set out and launched ModernCapital to make the venture capital industry more accessible to new talent. Our team of 4 (3 venture fellows plus myself) is 100% female and 50% Latina. As we spend more time digging into the entrepreneurial landscape of our region, more entrepreneurs and future investors from a wide range of backgrounds are contacting us wanting to join the community we are building.

Considering just how much has changed in the dialogue around venture capital and where the greatest next investment opportunities will arise, I am confident this is only the beginning.

 


0
<< Back Forward >>
Topics from 1 to 10 | in all: 30

Site search


Last comments

Walmart retreats from its UK Asda business to hone its focus on competing with Amazon
Peter Short
Good luck
Peter Short

Evolve Foundation launches a $100 million fund to find startups working to relieve human suffering
Peter Short
Money will give hope
Peter Short

Boeing will build DARPA’s XS-1 experimental spaceplane
Peter Short
Great
Peter Short

Is a “robot tax” really an “innovation penalty”?
Peter Short
It need to be taxed also any organic substance ie food than is used as a calorie transfer needs tax…
Peter Short

Twitter Is Testing A Dedicated GIF Button On Mobile
Peter Short
Sounds great Facebook got a button a few years ago
Then it disappeared Twitter needs a bottom maybe…
Peter Short

Apple’s Next iPhone Rumored To Debut On September 9th
Peter Short
Looks like a nice cycle of a round year;)
Peter Short

AncestryDNA And Google’s Calico Team Up To Study Genetic Longevity
Peter Short
I'm still fascinated by DNA though I favour pure chemistry what could be
Offered is for future gen…
Peter Short

U.K. Push For Better Broadband For Startups
Verg Matthews
There has to an email option icon to send to the clowns in MTNL ... the govt of India's service pro…
Verg Matthews

CrunchWeek: Apple Makes Music, Oculus Aims For Mainstream, Twitter CEO Shakeup
Peter Short
Noted Google maybe grooming Twitter as a partner in Social Media but with whistle blowing coming to…
Peter Short

CrunchWeek: Apple Makes Music, Oculus Aims For Mainstream, Twitter CEO Shakeup
Peter Short
Noted Google maybe grooming Twitter as a partner in Social Media but with whistle blowing coming to…
Peter Short