BLCK VC is on a mission to double the number of Black venture capitalists out there by 2024. The reason behind it shouldn’t need explaining — only 2% of all partner-level VCs are Black, and 81% of VC firms don’t have a single Black partner. It’s no surprise then, that the startup ecosystem that is built underneath the VC community is sadly and drastically homogeneous.
We sat down with BLCK VC co-founder and co-chair Sydney Sykes on an episode of Extra Crunch Live to talk about the ongoing protests, the state of the VC industry with regard to diversity and inclusion, and actionable insights and strategies around how we can be more inclusive across all facets of the tech ecosystem.
Because we believe this is a critical conversation to have and engage with, we’ve made this episode and the complete Q&A free.
Below, you’ll find a lightly edited transcript of highlights from the conversation, as well as a YouTube video of the entire chat. You’ll also find the video from BLCK VC’s “We Won’t Wait” day of action, as well as a list of resources focused on anti-racism education.
On whether tech companies’ energy in this moment will be sustained to foster long-lasting change:
You’re seeing all these tech companies saying ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and all these companies are donating. The truth is, in my mind, donating and posting statements doesn’t change the way your company works. It doesn’t change the way the industry works. So, when I hear those statements, that’s the part where I’m jaded and where I feel pessimistic and feel that things won’t change. Where I feel really optimistic is I’m seeing these employees at tech companies, and I’m seeing citizens saying, ‘No, you can’t just say Black Lives Matter. You need to actually live this.’
There’s a recognition now from the bottom up, a real grassroots effort to say, ‘you need to change what you’ve been doing because it hasn’t worked.’ I think these companies have been and they will need to continue to react to what their employees and what their customers are saying. So, I am more optimistic than I’ve ever been. That being said, I am still a black woman in America and I do not think that what’s going on right now will cure racism in any way. I’m optimistic, though, that things will be better in the future. In a month from now compared to where things were a month ago, how much better? We’ll have to wait and see. But I’m excited to see what the changes will be.
On creating and fostering change from within versus outside of an organization:
I first got interested in venture late in college. I was scrolling through the different pages of different VC firms, just black and white photos of white male investors. I felt that, just by being in this industry, just by joining a venture firm as an investor as a black woman, that I was initiating change and that I was making a difference. For me, I personally felt like the best way that I can cause action and that I can cause changes was from being on the inside. I don’t think that’s the right choice for everyone. I also don’t think that the onus should always be on people of color to put themselves in uncomfortable positions because they don’t think that those industries, those companies, will change without them being there. So I think it’s a balance.
On the one hand, you have boycotts that have worked in the past. That’s total abstinence. That’s total removal from a system that’s unjust. And on the other hand, you have people who are inside and they also are driving change in the environment.
I think there’s no right answer to how you drive change. If you are listened to and you have a voice, you need to speak up in the way that’s most powerful. So in the case of Alexis Ohanian, if he leaves, and him leaving is him raising his voice, that’s a powerful way to use your voice. There’s also a powerful way to use your voice from the inside. But at the same time, if he’s been speaking up all along and nothing’s changed, then maybe him leaving is speaking even louder, and maybe that is one approach. If you can’t make change from the inside, why should you waste your time there? Why not go somewhere else where you can actually drive change?
On the importance of tracking diversity numbers within VC firms:
It’s really important for people within firms, existing GPs and investors, to be aware of how big the issue is. If you don’t write it down, you don’t have to recognize what you’re missing and what is lacking. I’m not optimistic that, in the next couple of years as firms start writing down their data, that they will suddenly be representative of the U.S. population, or that they will be recognizing the value. But I also think it’s a bit of a snowball effect. If you get more diverse talent in the door or in the network, or at least on the radar, then you’re thinking about diversity more when you do your investment, when you host your events, when you’re expanding what the ecosystem looks like, even though it’s not going to change right away.
Frankly, a lot of the firms that reach out to us are already aware of and understand, to some extent, institutional racism. They understand implicit bias, and they understand that they are missing talent. It’s true that those are not the people or the firms who need the most help.
But when we do get firms who are willing to engage with us, or when we get in contact with firms that aren’t diverse or don’t have any diverse investors, it’s about talking about the value that diversity adds. In study after study, we see that businesses, investors and companies are better when they are more diverse, that their company will be better if they have that diversity. It’s just shown time and time again.
So even if you think your portfolio is as good as it could be, or your investor is as good as they could be, it’s probably not true. I also like to highlight the fact that it’s about having an informed perspective.
Your investors, the people you’re speaking with, the people you’re making investment decisions with, that perspective is only as informed as it is diverse. So if you don’t have diversity on that investment committee, making decisions about sending out those dollars, then you’re lacking a perspective and you’re missing information.
On best practices around tracking D&I:
On the VC firm side of things I recommend tracking top-level employees. What percent of your high-level employees represent diverse backgrounds, gender, LGBTQ and all that kind of data. Then, I also recommend tracking that at the seniority level, so associates, controllers, partners, GPs. How many of those people have diverse backgrounds. Then, beyond that, I think it’s also important to track your pipeline. How many of your candidates coming in are from diverse backgrounds or different schools. All those metrics are important, as well, because then you can see where the pipeline is falling short. When you host events, what do your speaker series look like? Do your panelists all look just like you?
I also think, on the entrepreneur side of things, it’s really important to look at the dollar amount spent. How many dollars are going towards founders from different backgrounds, rather than the number of diverse founders you’re investing in.
And lastly, and this is more of an intangible thing, but where are you going to find the entrepreneurs you’re investing in. Are they recommendations from other investors? Are they reaching out to you via cold calls and emails? Are you going to different colleges and universities and inviting them to your pitch days? So there’s also some pipeline tracking work that can be done there that is really important.
On increasing the number of Black partners at traditionally white VC firms versus encouraging Black VCs to start their own firms:
There are two approaches.
The first is the idea that these very large, predominantly white firms control a very large amount of the assets that are distributed in venture capital; $80 billion+ a year, and I’m sure a very large portion of that comes from the top 10 firms. So, it’s very difficult to parallel the amount of dollars being invested by the largest firms by starting up a brand new fund.
I also think it’s really important to have these Black-led VC firms that invest, without being beholden to any GPs above them. They have a very valuable perspective. We need both.
We need Black investors starting their own fund, starting their own firms, and investing in founders they believe in, whether they’re Black or not or brown or not. We also need people at the largest funds, making sure that the very, very large amount of wealth creation and job creation is being implemented and invested in a way that reflects the diversity of our country and reflects the perspectives of Black investors.
On separate funds dedicated to investing in underrepresented entrepreneurs, like the ones from SoftBank and a16z:
We always used to hear and still do sometimes hear the term ‘pipeline issue,’ which has always been a euphemism in the past to say that there’s not enough Black talent out there, which is just not true. There is a pipeline issue and it’s that these firms don’t have diverse pipelines because they don’t have diverse personal networks, and they haven’t tried to build out their networks. They tend to invest in people like them, and they tend to talk to people that look like them. That is the pipeline. I don’t know how these firms will change.
You mentioned SoftBank. There are a couple of funds right now dedicated to investing in underrepresented entrepreneurs, and I think any dollars put towards Black founders is a good thing. I’m having a hard time understanding the need for a separate fund to invest in diverse founders. If you have not been investing in diverse founders, how will a separate pile of money change anything? I don’t know. So you have to look at it and ask what is the issue? Why haven’t you been investing in diverse founders?
Do you think they don’t have good enough companies? That they don’t have enough good talent? They don’t have enough experience? I know none of those things are true. The approach I recommend is, above everything, change your pipeline. If it’s not working, change it. Go out there and meet founders, meet investors who are investing in diverse companies in a way that you haven’t. There are firms out there that are doing that. And if you feel like you can’t do that right away, then how about bringing in diverse scouts and giving them the money to invest? There are plenty of great Black founders, CEOs, investors, angel investors who would be wonderful scouts who can invest on a firm’s behalf and really put those dollars out there. That will instantaneously change things.
If you feel like you can’t do that, put your money into the funds that are actually doing it right now. Precursor is a great example. There are quite a few other funds that have been able to find incredible, diverse talent. Backstage Capital is another. There are quite a few of them. If you can’t do any of those things, I mean, I don’t know. I don’t think you’re trying.
On recommendations for aspiring Black investors who feel disillusioned or locked out of the VC community:
Don’t stop trying. You will not always get a response, but send cold emails, try to find the connections, a friend-of-a-friend in your network, and try to build up a network in venture. I know it’s difficult, but keep trying. I also recommend working with entrepreneurs to learn what that aspect of the job is like that will help you build up a skill set. So if there are any entrepreneurs around you, ask how you can work on a project with them, or interview them. There are a lot of accelerators and incubators that will offer opportunities for you to shadow or intern with them. That’s a really good approach and there can be more jobs on that side.
Truthfully, a lot of the jobs in venture go to somebody who comes from investment banking. That’s not the only approach, but being in the investment banking system or the startup ecosystem are helpful ways to get around venture capitalists that are a bit more accessible than the venture industry itself. It is a challenging road. The best approach for you is just trying to expand your network and putting your feet to the ground and
being proactive about it.
On firms that are waking up to this issue and want to make changes but are scared of coming off as opportunistic or performative:
Performative allyism is a problem.
You’re saying something that you don’t live. That is the only problem with all of this. If you live it, it’s not performative. It’s actual, if you genuinely believe what you say, what you put on social media, what you talk about. If you want to start recruiting in diverse ways, that won’t look opportunistic or performative. You will look enlightened. And maybe that’s a dramatic turn, but it’ll look like you finally understand. I don’t think any firm should be afraid to take action, especially on diversifying their networks.
Now, where you come into a risky space is when you start to think about the dollars you invest and the hiring you do as an act of, you know, good PR, or as an act of charity. There are incredible Black entrepreneurs out there and you should be investing in them because they will improve your portfolio. They will introduce you to even better investors. They will give you better opportunities to improve your funds. You should invest in hiring black investors because they will expand your network, they will provide you opportunities to think about problems in a different way. They will provide a different perspective and a different opinion, and they will be some of your best investors and investments. If you are hiring them, and you are not giving them the power to invest dollars, if you’re not giving them the opportunity to speak up and share their voice, that is performative. That is not helpful. It will not change lives, it will not change racism, it will not change the shape of this industry, and it will not make your portfolio and your firm better.
On the progress that’s been made in the past several years:
One great example is Elliott Robinson. He’s on our founding BLCK VC board, and now a GP at Bessemer. He is very well listened to in the VC community, not just in the Black VC community. I think that is a sign of progress. He has check-writing power.
I also like to see the movement of white allies stepping down from boards to make space for Black advisors to be on an independent board. That’s hugely important. It’s an important trend to keep continuing because board seats are an incredible source of influence and wealth and are very important to diversify.
I also am excited to see the groundswell of support from white allies from tech company employees, standing up and saying, ‘we just want to stand for your policies, we won’t stand for policies that don’t promote Black investors or Black employees at the same rate as their white counterparts, and we won’t stand for policies that support initiatives that promote institutional racism.’ I think that is all very empowering. Oh, I’m curious to see how this movement keeps going. I’m very hopeful. I think there is a tension and there’s action, and there is an excitement that I’ve never seen. I think we just need to try and keep moving that forward.
Following, you’ll find a list of resources for anti-racist education in the tech and VC industry and more broadly. This list is by no means comprehensive but is a great place to start.
On bias in tech:
Tech orgs focused on racial equality:
- Selma, Ava DuVernay
- Just Mercy, Destin Daniel Cretton
- 13th, Ava DuVernay
- American Son, Kenny Leon
- Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler
- If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
- I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck
- Clemency, Chinonye Chukwu
- The Black Power Mixtape: 1967 – 1975, Göran Olsson
- Do The Right Thing, Spike Lee
- The Last Black Man In San Francisco, Joe Talbot
- Get Out, Jordan Peele
You’re Losing Money by Not Using Promo Videos
Did you know that the #1 way to gain more followers, potential customers, & engagement is by utilizing a promo video in your marketing campaign? But don’t let your inexperience in the film hold you back! That’s because Promo has announced the first video creation platform of its kind. That’s because it offers unlimited premium clips to use within your original content.
I’m sure most of you know what a promo video is.
However, in this article, I want to go over the basics. We’re going to define the promo video and its functions. We’ll discuss why this is the best way to market your product or service. And of course, we’ll also be covering why you’ll actually save money by using a promo video in your strategy.
There’s a lot to cover. So let’s get moving!
What is a Promo Video?
So what is a promo video? Well, a promo video can be considered anything that brands and businesses use to try and get attention for themselves.
However, in this article, we will be focusing on how you can use these videos to increase your chances of growing your business.
You’ll notice that this is the type of promotional footage that businesses usually create for their services or products. So why are these videos necessary? The answer is simple – they’re used because they increase sales and revenue.
The best way to create these is by using an online promo video maker.
What is a Promo Video Maker?
A promo video maker is an online tool that allows you to create your video from various assets and then shares it with the public.
You’ll notice that most of these services offer a variety of pre-recorded clips and audio files to use in your editing suite. So you can mix and match certain clips, add different audio files, and then customize the titles on the footage.
Just like when you’re making a movie or other type of visual content, you need these assets to create your project. And just like when creating a movie or other creative project, there are going to be several different types of assets that will fit your needs.
Will a Promo Video Look Professional if You Use a Promo Video Maker?
We find it so different about using a promo video maker because these tools allow you to take the guesswork out of the editing process. So if you’re not too confident in your skillset, you can rely on these services to help you do it.
But what does that mean for the quality of your final product?
Well, in this case, the quality will be up to the level that you decide on. However, what’s important here is knowing that this is a self-service tool where you can make whatever edits are necessary to meet your needs.
What Should You Say in a Promo Video?
The answer to this question is simple – whatever you want.
That’s because, when it comes to making your own promo video, you’re in charge of what you use. Some marketing teams prefer to use their existing product listings as a basis for their promotional videos. However, some companies are more creative and use a combination of different assets together for their brand.
If you’re not too sure about how to create the footage that’ll fit your needs, try looking at tutorial videos online so that you can get an idea of how other people make these videos. This will help give you an idea of what type of footage works well when trying to market your business or service.
How Long Should a Promo Video Be?
The length of a promo video is up to you, as long as it’s within the required length. If you feel that your video isn’t long enough, then you can either edit it down or upgrade to a higher plan.
While using this tool, you should also keep in mind that longer videos tend to generate more views and more engagement from the viewer.
However, just because it’s on YouTube doesn’t mean that it needs to be an hour long. That’s because people can still watch less than an hour of footage in their lifetime (regardless of what they’ve watched). So if your goal is to make sure that your brand gets noticed, then you’ll want to keep this in mind when creating your project.
How Do You Make Money Online When You Use a Promo Video Maker?
If you’re going to make a promo video to boost your revenue, you need some type of incentive for the consumer. And this incentive is typically done through the use of an affiliate program.
When using these services, you’ll notice a link in the product description where it links to the merchant. So if someone clicks on that link and makes a purchase, then they’ll give you a percentage of their sale.
These promotions can help increase your chances. Consumers will want to make purchases on your site or any other online store.
Promo videos are a great way to market your business or service. Not only will they help you to increase brand awareness, but they’re also an effective tool for driving traffic to your website and making some extra sales.
However, this could all be put at risk if you don’t have the proper knowledge. This is why you need to take time and learn as much about these tools as possible.
And when picking a video maker, make sure to choose wisely. You don’t want to settle for something that won’t give you the quality that you need.How Do You Make Money Online When You Use a Promo Video Maker
Why is Cybersecurity Training Important for Startups?
Cybersecurity has become a significant threat to all businesses in 2021. Those startup owners who think they are safe are up for a disaster.
Around 6.85 million accounts are hacked daily. By this year (2021), the world is expected to lose 6 trillion dollars on cybersecurity alone.
So, cybersecurity is not the thing to be taken lightly—businesses who do so add more weight to the statistics mentioned above.
To maintain optimum security, employee cybersecurity training is one of the most significant factors. If your employees are not trained enough, you are always vulnerable to data theft.
Before we move on to tell you how you can train your employees, let us talk a bit about why startups are easy bait for cybercriminals.
Why are startups an attractive target to cybercriminals?
Here are a few reasons why cybercriminals feast on startups:
· Inability to allocate budget, provide extensive training, and lack of expertise for defense.
. Unavailability of full-time cybersecurity experts.
Employees aren’t trained in advance.
· Lack of up-gradation of security protocols.
· No risk management and awareness policy in place.
All these points contribute to a successful data breach that helps hackers get the better of startups every time.
Seven Tips that are Essential for Employee Training
1. Don’t go hard on your employees.
Employees are humans. They can make mistakes even if they are trained appropriately. As a startup, you should not expect them to be perfect; instead, invest in their training.
A standard security protocol must be established for employees so that everyone in the organization must know their duties and expectations.
Harassing them in front of their colleagues is as good as digging a ditch for your organization.
Moreover, the governments worldwide have now taken strict notice of employee treatment, so maintain a good relationship with your employee.
2. Train your employees often
Some businesses view cybersecurity measures as a formal protocol. They would allocate a small budget and invest it formally every year to check on their security.
Unfortunately for them, attacks don’t happen yearly, and hackers quite certainly do not follow a formal protocol to hack all devices.
Thus, abiding by a formal approach to train your employees every year and then expect them to work alongside obsolete knowledge for the entire year is not feasible.
You must invest in regular training drills to ensure that you are not being attacked and every employee is updated with the latest cybersecurity trends.
3. Educate your employees about the perks of an SSL certificate
SSL certificate is a security protocol that protects a website by encrypting data from both client and server-side.
SSL or Secure Socket Layer encrypts your data over a secure network so that hackers cannot see it.
Your employees must be well-aware of SSL functions so that they can identify an unwanted incoming request.
Knowledge of SSL is essential to know whether the site is legit to visit or not. A green padlock gives an indication of safety to employees.
4. Incorporate cybersecurity in your organization.
Cybersecurity might not be such a big concern back in 2010, but in 2021, it is a part of the cyber world.
Organizations nowadays need to embrace cybersecurity and integrate it into their work culture.
To do so, you can send out regular news regarding data hacks to your employees, keeping them updated with the latest trends.
However, please do not go overboard with it as it may divert employee attention from the actual task of taking care of cybercrime.
Moderation is the key here.
5. C-suite buy-in for employees
If you are not amongst the C-level employees or the top management, you have to prove your point to get your message across.
You need to make them understand the importance of employee training (if they haven’t already understood) by drafting a plan consisting of all the potential costs involved while working with an ill-trained workforce.
The costs may include the cost of data theft, system failure, and employee mistakes. Gather some numbers instead of theory to back your point.
C-suite buy-ins are essential for lower-level managers to ensure employees working under them are well-equipped with the latest trends.
6. Ensure strong password management
Passwords provide easy access to crucial accounts to cybercriminals. They do not need to spend time and effort in breaching if they can guess your password.
To maintain a culture of strong passwords, an organization must abide by the following tips:
· Use long passwords as they are hard to decrypt or guess.
· Ensure usage of uppercase and lowercase characters.
· Use incomplete words as complete words are easy to guess.
· Keep changing your passwords regularly.
· Do not share your password across all accounts.
Apart from these measures, you can even use a password manager to help you use different passwords each time.
7. Test your employee skill by dummy attacks
You have trained your employees and equip them with tools, but are you sure they will perform optimally when the attack happens?
If not, then the best way to test it is by running dummy attacks on your organization. They have intended attacks used by organizations to test how their employees perform.
Apart from employee security training, dummy tests are also essential to know whether the infrastructure (software, hardware, and tools) is working appropriately to repel an attack or not.
When you sweat in peace, you won’t bleed in war. In other words, if you train your employees to use the latest software, identify phishing attacks and safeguard their critical data, they will help repel a significant cyberattack.
Cybercrimes are inevitable, but if your workforce is well-prepared, it will be able to repel and get the better of hackers.
Whether you are a startup, an individual employee, or a big organization, maintaining optimum cybersecurity should be your top priority.
Moreover, tools like SSL certificate, password manager, and security software make website protection a much easier task.
So, invest in these tools to safeguard your startup from potential attacks.
After a $13 million fundraise, Chingari onboards Salman Khan as brand ambassador and investor
- Earlier this week, Chingari had raised $13 million in a funding round from mobile entertainment solution provider OnMobile.
- Meanwhile, Actor Salman Khan has joined the startup as a brand ambassador and an investor.
- The details of the investment were not disclosed.
After a $13 million fundraise, Homegrown short video app Chingari is again making news after announcing that it has onboarded actor Salman Khan as a brand ambassador and an investor. Although, the details of investment made by Salman Khan were not disclosed.
Earlier this week, Chingari had received $13 million (about Rs 95 crore) in a funding round from Bengaluru-based mobile entertainment solution provider OnMobile in exchange for a 10% stake. To date, the startup has raised over Rs 100 crore in its funding rounds.
Commenting on the development, Sumit Ghosh, co-founder & CEO, said, “This is a really significant partnership for Chingari, our ethos is to reach out to every state of Bharat and it’s our pleasure to have Salman Khan on board as one of our global brand ambassadors and investors.”
The founder believes that the association will help Chingari to scale greater heights in the near future. “We wanted a brand ambassador who is in tune with the pulse of the nation, and Salman Khan in many senses cut across all genres and geography and is the best choice to be the face of the brand,” said, Aditya Kothari, Co-Founder & CSO, Chingari.
Deepak Salvi, Co-Founder & COO, Chingari, said, “we believe that Salman’s mass appeal will help us attract more users onto the platform.”
“This engagement with Chingari will give an opportunity to a lot of users to showcase their unseen talent and give way to the next set of digital stars in India,” said, Vikram Tanwar, co-founder of UBT, Khan’s talent management firm.
Speaking on the association with Chingari, Actor Salman Khan, said, “I like how Chingari has shaped in such a short span of time, into a platform for millions from rural to urban to showcase their unique talents and be seen by another million in no time.”
Chingari, which currently has 56 million users on its platform, has already partnered with Bengali streaming service Hoichoi and Ekta Kapoor’s AltBalaji to provide more content clips accessible to its users.
It counts iSeed, FJ Labs, Village Global, Republic Labs, AngelList India, and angels Jasminder Gulati, Guy Lelouch, Fabrice Grinda, and Brian Norgard as investors.
Extra Crunch roundup: Tonal EC-1, Deliveroo’s rocky IPO, is Substack really worth $650M?
For this morning’s column, Alex Wilhelm looked back on the last few months, “a busy season for technology exits” that followed a hot Q4 2020.
We’re seeing signs of an IPO market that may be cooling, but even so, “there are sufficient SPACs to take the entire recent Y Combinator class public,” he notes.
Once we factor in private equity firms with pockets full of money, it’s evident that late-stage companies have three solid choices for leveling up.
Seeking more insight into these liquidity options, Alex interviewed:
- DigitalOcean CEO Yancey Spruill, whose company went public via IPO;
- Latch CFO Garth Mitchell, who discussed his startup’s merger with real estate SPAC $TSIA;
- Brian Cruver, founder and CEO of AlertMedia, which recently sold to a private equity firm.
After recapping their deals, each executive explains how their company determined which flashing red “EXIT” sign to follow. As Alex observed, “choosing which option is best from a buffet’s worth of possibilities is an interesting task.”
Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch! Have a great weekend.
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
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The Tonal EC-1
On Tuesday, we published a four-part series on Tonal, a home fitness startup that has raised $200 million since it launched in 2018. The company’s patented hardware combines digital weights, coaching and AI in a wall-mounted system that sells for $2,995.
By any measure, it is poised for success — sales increased 800% between December 2019 and 2020, and by the end of this year, the company will have 60 retail locations. On Wednesday, Tonal reported a $250 million Series E that valued the company at $1.6 billion.
Our deep dive examines Tonal’s origins, product development timeline, its go-to-market strategy and other aspects that combined to spark investor interest and customer delight.
We call this format the “EC-1,” since these stories are as comprehensive and illuminating as the S-1 forms startups must file with the SEC before going public.
Here’s how the Tonal EC-1 breaks down:
We have more EC-1s in the works about other late-stage startups that are doing big things well and making news in the process.
What to make of Deliveroo’s rough IPO debut
Why did Deliveroo struggle when it began to trade? Is it suffering from cultural dissonance between its high-growth model and more conservative European investors?
Let’s peek at the numbers and find out.
Kaltura puts debut on hold. Is the tech IPO window closing?
The Exchange doubts many folks expected the IPO climate to get so chilly without warning. But we could be in for a Q2 pause in the formerly scorching climate for tech debuts.
Is Substack really worth $650M?
A $65 million Series B is remarkable, even by 2021 standards. But the fact that a16z is pouring more capital into the alt-media space is not a surprise.
Substack is a place where publications have bled some well-known talent, shifting the center of gravity in media. Let’s take a look at Substack’s historical growth.
RPA market surges as investors, vendors capitalize on pandemic-driven tech shift
Robotic process automation came to the fore during the pandemic as companies took steps to digitally transform. When employees couldn’t be in the same office together, it became crucial to cobble together more automated workflows that required fewer people in the loop.
RPA has enabled executives to provide a level of automation that essentially buys them time to update systems to more modern approaches while reducing the large number of mundane manual tasks that are part of every industry’s workflow.
E-commerce roll-ups are the next wave of disruption in consumer packaged goods
This year is all about the roll-ups, the aggregation of smaller companies into larger firms, creating a potentially compelling path for equity value. The interest in creating value through e-commerce brands is particularly striking.
Just a year ago, digitally native brands had fallen out of favor with venture capitalists after so many failed to create venture-scale returns. So what’s the roll-up hype about?
Hack takes: A CISO and a hacker detail how they’d respond to the Exchange breach
The cyber world has entered a new era in which attacks are becoming more frequent and happening on a larger scale than ever before. Massive hacks affecting thousands of high-level American companies and agencies have dominated the news recently. Chief among these are the December SolarWinds/FireEye breach and the more recent Microsoft Exchange server breach.
Everyone wants to know: If you’ve been hit with the Exchange breach, what should you do?
5 machine learning essentials nontechnical leaders need to understand
Machine learning has become the foundation of business and growth acceleration because of the incredible pace of change and development in this space.
But for engineering and team leaders without an ML background, this can also feel overwhelming and intimidating.
Here are best practices and must-know components broken down into five practical and easily applicable lessons.
Embedded procurement will make every company its own marketplace
Embedded procurement is the natural evolution of embedded fintech.
In this next wave, businesses will buy things they need through vertical B2B apps, rather than through sales reps, distributors or an individual merchant’s website.
Knowing when your startup should go all-in on business development
There’s a persistent fallacy swirling around that any startup growing pain or scaling problem can be solved with business development.
That’s frankly not true.
Dear Sophie: What should I know about prenups and getting a green card through marriage?
I’m a founder of a startup on an E-2 investor visa and just got engaged! My soon-to-be spouse will sponsor me for a green card.
Are there any minimum salary requirements for her to sponsor me? Is there anything I should keep in mind before starting the green card process?
— Betrothed in Belmont
Startups must curb bureaucracy to ensure agile data governance
Many organizations perceive data management as being akin to data governance, where responsibilities are centered around establishing controls and audit procedures, and things are viewed from a defensive lens.
That defensiveness is admittedly justified, particularly given the potential financial and reputational damages caused by data mismanagement and leakage.
Nonetheless, there’s an element of myopia here, and being excessively cautious can prevent organizations from realizing the benefits of data-driven collaboration, particularly when it comes to software and product development.
Bring CISOs into the C-suite to bake cybersecurity into company culture
Cyber strategy and company strategy are inextricably linked. Consequently, chief information security officers in the C-Suite will be just as common and influential as CFOs in maximizing shareholder value.
How is edtech spending its extra capital?
Edtech unicorns have boatloads of cash to spend following the capital boost to the sector in 2020. As a result, edtech M&A activity has continued to swell.
The idea of a well-capitalized startup buying competitors to complement its core business is nothing new, but exits in this sector are notable because the money used to buy startups can be seen as an effect of the pandemic’s impact on remote education.
But in the past week, the consolidation environment made a clear statement: Pandemic-proven startups are scooping up talent — and fast.
Tech in Mexico: A confluence of Latin America, the US and Asia
Knowledge transfer is not the only trend flowing in the U.S.-Asia-LatAm nexus. Competition is afoot as well.
Because of similar market conditions, Asian tech giants are directly expanding into Mexico and other LatAm countries.
How we improved net retention by 30+ points in 2 quarters
There’s certainly no shortage of SaaS performance metrics leaders focus on, but NRR (net revenue retention) is without question the most underrated metric out there.
NRR is simply total revenue minus any revenue churn plus any revenue expansion from upgrades, cross-sells or upsells. The greater the NRR, the quicker companies can scale.
5 mistakes creators make building new games on Roblox
Even the most experienced and talented game designers from the mobile F2P business usually fail to understand what features matter to Robloxians.
For those just starting their journey in Roblox game development, these are the most common mistakes gaming professionals make on Roblox.
CEO Manish Chandra, investor Navin Chaddha explain why Poshmark’s Series A deck sings
“Lead with love, and the money comes.” It’s one of the cornerstone values at Poshmark. On the latest episode of Extra Crunch Live, Chandra and Chaddha sat down with us and walked us through their original Series A pitch deck.
Will the pandemic spur a smart rebirth for cities?
Cities are bustling hubs where people live, work and play. When the pandemic hit, some people fled major metropolitan markets for smaller towns — raising questions about the future validity of cities.
But those who predicted that COVID-19 would destroy major urban communities might want to stop shorting the resilience of these municipalities and start going long on what the post-pandemic future looks like.
The NFT craze will be a boon for lawyers
There’s plenty of uncertainty surrounding copyright issues, fraud and adult content, and legal implications are the crux of the NFT trend.
Whether a court would protect the receipt-holder’s ownership over a given file depends on a variety of factors. All of these concerns mean artists may need to lawyer up.
Viewing Cazoo’s proposed SPAC debut through Carvana’s windshield
It’s a reasonable question: Why would anyone pay that much for Cazoo today if Carvana is more profitable and whatnot? Well, growth. That’s the argument anyway.
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