economy

Lessons from building Brex into a billion-dollar startup

Henrique Dubugras Contributor Henrique Dubugras is the founder Brex, the billion-dollar corporate credit provider for startups. When I think about my experience as an immigrant and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I remember growing up in Brazil and how we saw tech founders and CEOs as kings. We imagined what it would be like to assume the throne. But these weren’t just any kings. Silicon Valley was the kingdom of nerds and underdogs. We identified with these guys, they were just like us. We were fed the myth of a Silicon Valley meritocracy, and the illusion that all you needed was ambition, determination, and a good idea to meet the right person and get funded. What we didn’t understand was that this myth was not completely rooted in reality. Not everyone has access to the American Dream, ...

Jane VC, a new fund for female entrepreneurs, wants founders to cold email them

Want to pitch a venture capitalist? You’ll need a “warm introduction” first. At least that’s what most in the business will advise. Find a person, typically a man, who made the VC you’re interested in pitching a whole bunch of money at some point and have them introduce you. Why? Because VCs love people who’ve made them money; naturally, they’ll be willing to hear you out if you’ve got at least one money maker on your side. There’s a big problem with that cycle. Not all entrepreneurs are friendly with millionaires and not all entrepreneurs, especially those based outside Silicon Valley or from underrepresented backgrounds, have anyone in their network to provide them that coveted intro. Jane VC, a new venture fund based out of Cleveland and London wants entrepreneurs to cold email them. Se...

Building a great startup requires more than genius and a great invention

Shahin Farshchi Contributor More posts by this contributor Investing in frontier technology is (and isn’t) cleantech all over again The dos and don’ts of crafting frontier-tech companies Many entrepreneurs assume that an invention carries intrinsic value, but that assumption is a fallacy. Here, the examples of the 19th and 20th century inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla are instructive. Even as aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors lionize Edison for his myriad inventions and business acumen, they conveniently fail to recognize Tesla, despite having far greater contributions to how we generate, move and harness power. Edison is the exception, with the legendary penniless Tesla as the norm. Universities are the epicenter of pure innovation research. But the reality is that academic res...

These are the most successful companies to emerge from Y Combinator

Earlier this month, Brex, a credit card provider to startups, announced it had raised $125 million at a $1.1 billion valuation. The round was impressive for a couple of reasons. 1. The founders are a pair of 22-year-olds that had set out to build a virtual reality company before pivoting to payments. And 2. They had only completed Y Combinator, a well-known Silicon Valley startup accelerator, the year prior. Y Combinator is responsible for many successes in the startup world, certainly more than its fellow accelerators, which are all known to provide early-stage companies with a seed investment  — in YC’s case, $150,000 — mentorship and educational resources through a short-term program that culminates in a demo day. Today, YC has released the latest list of its most successful companies s...

SpankChain spanked

SpankChain, a cryptocurrency aimed at decentralized sex cams, has announced that a hacker stole about $38,000 from their payment channel thanks to a broken smart contract. They wrote: At 6pm PST Saturday, an unknown attacker drained 165.38 ETH (~$38,000) from our payment channel smart contract which also resulted in $4,000 worth of BOOTY on the contract becoming immobilized. Of the stolen/immobilized ETH/BOOTY, 34.99 ETH (~$8,000) and 1271.88 BOOTY belongs to users (~$9,300 total), and the rest belonged to SpankChain. Our immediate priority has been to provide complete reimbursements to all users who lost funds. We are preparing an ETH airdrop to cover all $9,300 worth of ETH and BOOTY that belonged to users. Funds will be sent directly to users’ SpankPay accounts, and will be available as...

Shopify opens its first brick-and-mortar space in Los Angeles

Shopify, the provider of payment and logistics management software and services for retailers, has opened its first physical storefront in Los Angeles. The first brick and mortar location for the Toronto-based company, is nestled in a warren of downtown Los Angeles boutique shops in a complex known as the Row DTLA. For Shopify, Los Angeles is the ideal place to debut a physical storefront showing off the company’s new line of hardware products and the array of services it provides to businesses ranging from newly opened startups to $900 million juggernauts like the Kylie Cosmetics brand. The city is one of the most dense conglomerations of Shopify customers with over 10,000 merchants using the company’s technologies in the greater Los Angeles area. 400 of those retailers have each earned o...

Indonesian co-working startup GoWork lands $10 million

Co-working today is a global game that’s played by many more than just WeWork, despite the company’s valuation surging to $20 billion. But, as WeWork increasingly globalizes its focus, the U.S. firm is coming into contact with smaller players who are highly localized in markets with the potential to grow significantly. One such market is Indonesia, the largest economy in the growing region of Southeast Asia. Indonesia’s capital alone has a population of 10 million and it is tipped to overtake Tokyo as the world’s most populous city by 2020. WeWork is prioritizing Indonesia as one of the keys markets in Asia but already there are strong local competitors. EV Hive, now known as Cocowork, raised $20 million earlier this year, and now Gowork, a startup formed from a merger between Rework and G...

Venture capital investment in US companies to hit $100B in 2018

So many new unicorns valued at $1 billion-plus, countless $100 million venture financings, an explosion of giant funds — it’s no surprise 2018 is shaping up to be a banner year for venture capital investment in U.S.-based companies. There are more than 2.5 months remaining in 2018 and already U.S. companies have raised $84.1 billion — more than all of 2017 — across 6,583 VC deals as of Sept. 30, 2018, according to data from PitchBook’s 3Q Venture Monitor. Last year, companies raised $82 billion across more than 9,000 deals in what was similarly an impressive year for the industry. Many questioned whether the trend would — or could — continue this year, and oh, boy has it. VC investment has sprinted past decade-highs and shows no signs of slowing down. Why the uptick? Fewer companies are ra...

Tencent backs fintech firm Voyager to set up battle with Alibaba in the Philippines

China’s internet battle is rapidly reproducing itself in Southeast Asia. One new hotspot is the Philippines, where Tencent just agreed to invest in Voyager, a fintech business started by telecom firm PLDT. The deal would bring Tencent into direct competition with arch-rival Alibaba, which entered the Philippines 18 months ago when its fintech affiliate Ant Financial invested in Mynt, a financial venture from Globe Telecom which is a competitor to Voyager. Following a week of speculation, PLDT announced a deal today that sees Tencent and KKR pay up to $175 million for a minority stake in the Voyager business. There have been reports that PLDT is looking to sell its majority stake, for now that has been retained but the firm did say that it has options to add other investors via the creation...

Africa Roundup: Paga goes global and 4 startups raise $99M in VC

Jake Bright Contributor More posts by this contributor Polestar unveils first production EV with aim to overtake Tesla Liquid Telecom goes long on Africa’s startups as future clients Nigerian digital payments startup Paga is gearing up for international expansion with a $10 million round led by the Global Innovation Fund. The company is exploring the release of its payments product in Ethiopia, Mexico, and the Philippines—CEO Tayo Oviosu told TechCrunch. Paga looks to go head to head with regional and global payment players, such as PayPal, Alipay, and Safaricom according to Oviosu. “We are not only in a position to compete with them, we’re going beyond them,” he said of Kenya’s MPesa mobile money product. “Our goal is to build a global payment ecosystem across many emerging markets.” Laun...

YC grad The Lobby raises $1.2M to help job seekers break into Wall Street

Six months after completing Y Combinator’s 12-week accelerator program, The Lobby is announcing a $1.2 million investment. The startup connects job seekers to Wall Street bankers, venture capitalists and other finance “insiders” for advice and personalized career coaching. Founder and former investment banker Deepak Chhugani wants to help people who don’t come from elite backgrounds or have the network of an Ivy League graduate land high-profile finance roles. “There’s a huge chunk of people that never get noticed,” Chhugani told TechCrunch. “The best opportunities are usually only privy to people that are from those wealthy networks.” Chhugani, a Bentley University graduate who began his career at Merrill Lynch, believes he was only able to break into Wall Street because the firm had a ho...

Airbnb wants to give its hosts equity in its business

Airbnb wants to give the homeowners who power its service the opportunity to own a piece of its business. That’s why, as Axios reports, the $31-billion-valued company has written to the SEC to ask if its rules around security ownership can be revised. Specifically, Airbnb is seeking a change to the SEC’s Rule 701 — which governs ownership of equity in companies — to allow a new kind of shareholder class for workers who participate in gig economy companies and their services. Uber, for one, has met with the SEC to propose a similar allowance but Airbnb’s argument is laid out in a letter that you can read here (thanks to Axios.) “As a sharing economy marketplace, Airbnb succeeds when these hosts succeed,” the company wrote in one passage. “We believe that enabling private companies to grant ...