Category: Venture Capital

June 9, 2019 Off

What happens if there’s no Vision Fund II?

By Jill T Frey

While I’d like to recommend panicking as a general response to the world, a smaller or fully neutered Vision Fund II won’t crash everything in the sphere of giant private companies.

Recent headlines describe a world that might never see a Vision Fund II. The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend, for example, that “SoftBank Faces Challenges Raising Latest $100 Billion Fund.” The Washington Post this morning noted that SoftBank’sMasa Finds Not Everyone Shares His Vision.” And so on.

What matters for tech shops, startups and unicorns alike is that instead of their being an eventual Brady Bunch of Vision Funds, vision-ing around the world like buzzy, cash-laden drones, the franchise might halt after its first installment.

The $100 billion-ish vehicle has caused disturbances of all sorts in the fabric of the private capital markets, deploying cash with hurricane speed. Checks into … Read the rest

June 8, 2019 Off

Everyone loves pizza, including VCs

By Jill T Frey

Sometimes a person (I’m not naming names here) tires of staring at startup funding data, and her hungry mind wanders to pizza.

But ordering a pizza in real life isn’t always the best choice for such people/reporters. So instead, we’ll pivot to the next best (not really) thing: Looking at what startup investors are doing vis-à-vis the pizza industry.

Turns out, VCs and growth investors are finding lots of ways to toss money at the space. A query of Crunchbase data rolled out more than 50 companies funded in the past couple of years that mention pizza in their business descriptions. In the chart below, we slice into 10 of the most heavily funded and intriguing pizza-preneurs.

Taken together, … Read the rest

June 8, 2019 Off

Startups Weekly: The Peloton IPO (bull vs. bear)

By Jill T Frey

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a newsletter published every Saturday that dives into the week’s noteworthy venture capital deals, funds and trends. Before I dive into this week’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the proliferation of billion-dollar companies. Before that, I noted the uptick in beverage startup rounds. Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to [email protected] or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

Now, time for some quick notes on Peloton’s confirmed initial public offering. The fitness unicorn, which sells a high-tech exercise bike and affiliated subscription to original fitness content, confidentially filed to go public earlier this week. Unfortunately, there’s no S-1 to pore through yet; all I can do for now is speculate a bit about Peloton’s long-term potential.

What I know: 

  • Peloton is profitable. Founder and chief executive John Foley said at one point that he
Read the rest
June 6, 2019 Off

Thumbtack is raising up to $120M on a flat valuation

By Jill T Frey

Thumbtack, one of the first players in what is now known as the gig economy, has hit the fundraising circuit once again.

The online services marketplace that matches customers with nearby professionals is raising up to $120 million in Series H shares, according to a Delaware stock authorization filing uncovered by the Prime Unicorn Index. Thumbtack did not respond to a request for comment.

At more than 10 years old, the business has previously raised nearly $300 million in a combination of debt and equity funding. The upcoming round comes at a flat valuation to its 2015 Series G funding of $125 million, which valued Thumbtack at $1.3 billion. Scottish asset manager Baillie Gifford led that round, which increased its valuation roughly 60% from $804 million, according to PitchBook:

Thumbtack’s funding history

June 2009: $650,000 Series A | $3.3M valuation

Jan. 2012: $4.4B Series C | $16.5M valuation

Read the rest
June 6, 2019 Off

Unraveling the “Secrets of Sand Hill Road” and the VC thought process, with Andreessen Horowitz’s Scott Kupor

By Jill T Frey

Extra Crunch offers members the opportunity to tune into conference calls led and moderated by the TechCrunch writers you read every day. This week, TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos sat down with Scott Kupor, managing director at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz to dig into his new book Secrets of Sand Hill Road, discuss his advice for new founders dealing with VCs and to pick his brain on the opportunities that excite him most today.

Scott gained inspiration for Secrets of Sand Hill Road after realizing he was hearing the same questions from different entrepreneurs over his decade in venture. The book acts as an updated guide on what VCs actually do, how they think and how founders should engage with them.

Scott offers Connie his take on why, despite the influx of available information on the venture world, founders still view VC as a black box. Connie and Scott … Read the rest

June 5, 2019 Off

Social Capital reincarnated

By Jill T Frey

Nine months ago, the once high-flying venture capital fund Social Capital made the bold decision to stop accepting outside capital and operate as a family office, in essence.

The co-founder of the outfit, brazen billionaire and early Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, pledged to upend his investment strategy and make fewer but much larger investments as a means to improve his returns. Naturally, a near-complete exodus of Social Capital’s venture capitalists followed.

Today, the firm’s three founders, Palihapitiya, Mamoon Hamid and Ted Maidenberg, have gone their separate ways. Palihapitiya is rewriting the Social Capital playbook, Hamid is busy reinvigorating Kleiner Perkins and Maidenberg is building on top of the data-driven strategy and proprietary software dubbed “Magic 8-Ball” he built at Social Capital, with a new firm called Tribe Capital.

Quietly, Tribe Capital’s co-founders, Maidenberg and former Social Capital partners Arjun Sethi and Jonathan Hsu, have deployed millions of dollars in Read the rest

June 5, 2019 Off

Which type of funding is actually best for your business?

By Jill T Frey

When starting a tech company, there seems to be a playbook that most entrepreneurs follow. While some may start with a bit of bootstrapping, most will dive straight into raising seed money through investors. In many cases, this is a great path. It’s a path I’ve taken twice myself, first with GroupMe, and then again with Fundera.

Ironically, though, my second venture-backed company is a business focused on helping entrepreneurs find debt financing—a process I’ve gone through only once myself. But after five years of building and scaling this business, it’s made me take a step back and consider the question of when and where debt financing might be a … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

VCs bet $12M on Troops, a Slackbot for sales teams

By Jill T Frey

Slack wants to be the new operating system for teams, something it has made clear on more than one occasion, including in its recent S-1 filing. To accomplish that goal, it put together an in-house $80 million venture fund in 2015 to invest in third-party developers building on top of its platform.

Weeks ahead of its direct listing on The New York Stock Exchange, it continues to put that money to work.

Troops is the latest to land additional capital from the enterprise giant. The New York-based startup helps sales teams communicate with a customer relationship management tool plugged directly into Slack. In short, it automates routine sales management activities and creates visibility into important deals through integrations with employee emails and Salesforce.

Troops founder and chief executive officer Dan Reich, who previously co-founded TULA Skincare, told TechCrunch he opted to build a Slackbot rather than create an independent … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

Fitness startup Mirror nears $300M valuation with fresh funding

By Jill T Frey

Today, Peloton is a bonafide success. The company, which sells $2,245 internet-connected exercise bikes, boasts a $4 billion valuation and a cult following.

That hasn’t always been the case. For years, Peloton battled for venture capital investment and struggled to attract buyers. Now that it’s proven the market for tech-enabled home exercise equipment and affiliated subscription products, a whole bunch of startups are chasing down the same customer segment.

Mirror, a New York-based company that sells $1,495 full-length mirrors that double as interactive home gyms, is closing in a round of funding expected to reach $36 million, sources and Delaware stock filings confirm, at a valuation just under $300 million. It’s unclear who has signed on to lead the round; we’ve heard a number of high-profile firms looked at Mirror’s books and passed. The company has previously raised a total of $38 million from Spark Capital, First Round Capital, Lerer … Read the rest

June 3, 2019 Off

Flash Sale! Buy a mobility startup package, get one for free at Disrupt SF

By Jill T Frey

Check your calendars, mobility startup fans. It’s only five short weeks until TC Sessions: Mobility 2019 goes down in San Jose. Get ready to dive into the current state of mobility, challenge assumptions, put hyperbole in its place and help shape the future of these rapidly evolving technologies.

And if you want to expose your early-stage mobility startups to mobility’s brightest, most influential founders, technologists and investors, take advantage of this limited-time flash sale. When you buy a demo table at TC Sessions: Mobility you’ll get a free Startup Alley Exhibitor Package at Disrupt San Francisco 2019*. And guess what — in addition to a demo space, both events’ startup packages come with three attendee tickets!

This double-demo opportunity comes to a grinding halt on Friday, June 7 at 11:59 pm (PT) and is exclusively for early-stage mobility startups. Don’t miss your chance to showcase your company to thousands of … Read the rest