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It would be unfair to say that this week in tech and startups felt like the 2021 boom cycle; especially when you look in the dismissals from Truepill, his fourth this year, and Meta announcing that it will freeze hiring. At the same time it feels like there’s a new feeling in the air. Hell, NFT markets are still raising money.
The market is not boring, but it is not noisy; and the mood among my sources is certainly more creepy than wild. Aside from the fact that, yes, I grew up writing poetry about fall foliage before I decided I wanted to be a journalist, I say all of this to validate the nuance of this moment.
The ideas I am looking at towards the end of the year are as follows:
- What happened to the black swan memos? In the early innings of the economic downturn, investors turned to portfolio companies to warn of an increasingly volatile environment. That conversation hasn’t gone away, but it has certainly gotten quieter, with many investors now telling me that a super funding raise is on the way. So what is the new guidance being sent out to portfolio companies?
- What is the human side of the firing story? My colleagues Mary Anne Y cristina gave us all an important lesson this week, which is that stories about workforce reductions shouldn’t revolve around the employer. The duo wrote of the human toll of Better.com’s wave of layoffs: full story here – and I’m not going to steal this idea so subtly. I want to talk to people affected by the wave of tech layoffs in 2022 and hear what the next steps are. I’ve heard it’s much more complicated than “you should have known your company was overvalued to begin with.”
- Finally, what are startups preparing to do differently? I’m guilty of this, but we often talk about startups and technology with generalizations, a bit covered in explaining that it’s useful for directional purposes. I want to know what the startups learned this year and what they are tactically doing differently. Spending with more discipline or focusing on the product does not count; give me details, and better yet, tell me where you disagree with your investors.
Let me know what yours are by tweeting at me or replying to this post. If you missed last week’s newsletter, read it here: “Tiger Global, fickle controls and the difficulty of acceleration”. We also recorded a companion podcast, here: “Building startups in public has an end date.”
In today’s newsletter, we’ll talk about the beauty of pivots, a creative way to show that your startup hires entrepreneurs, and the latest from the Global 500.
If you like this newsletter, can you do me a quick favor? Forward it to a friend, share it on Twitter and tag me so I can thank you for reading me!
A reminder that pivots work
TC’s Rebecca Szkutak wrote about how a pivot helped HopSkipDrive win a tough argument for parents: entrust your children with our ride sharing services.
Here’s why it’s important: As we discussed in our last Equity podcast, sometimes we are all just a Hop, Skip and Drive away from success. The “Uber for X” model has been MIA for a few years, so the story behind HopSkipDrive and their trusted partner stands out to me. Who said schools weren’t experimental!
A different version of CVC I guess
This week it became known that Cloudflare raised $1.25 billion in funding for startups using its own platform. Well, something like that.
Here’s why it’s important: The security, performance and reliability company did not raise a corporate venture fund, typical of other companies seeking to attract the attention of entrepreneurs. Instead, Cloudflare just got dozens of venture firms offer to invest up to $1.25 billion to companies in their existing funds. It’s a bit softer than a traditional investment vehicle, given that we don’t know how formal those support offers are and the fact that Cloudflare doesn’t provide any funding or make funding decisions.
To me, the pledge just tells us that Cloudflare wants to show startups that not only does it make sense to use their software, but it also makes pennies.
I’m experimenting with a new section in Startups Weekly, where each week we follow up on an old story or trend to see what’s changed since our first look. This week, we’re keeping track of our conversation about accelerators and demo days with a look at how the Global 500, formerly the 500 Startups, thinks about it.
This is what’s new: It’s been just over a year since the 500 Startups accelerator changed its name to 500 Global in an attempt to reposition itself as a venture company. In my last article for TechCrunch+, I spoke with Clayton Bryan, Partner and Head of the Global 500 Accelerator Program, about how they keep up with the competition. Excerpt below!
The investor highlighted the effectiveness of rolling admissions, which its two main accelerator competitors, Y Combinator and Techstars, do not do. Three years ago, 500 Global said it would decide on investments throughout the year instead of just twice a year. Demo days will still happen twice a year, but startups can choose which demo day they want to be a part of.
“That change has really resonated with the founders,” Bryan said. He likened the previous version of 500 Global to a school with a year-round schedule: there are times when you’re doing homework, times when you sit down and recruit, and summer break. Now, it’s year-round, and he admits it’s harder to manage, “but at the same time much more appreciated by the founders.”
“I think it makes us more competitive,” he said. “We can talk more often with the founders and they can start our program at different times. They do not have to wait for the application to open or for the deadline to pass. While [with] some other programs, they might say, ‘Hey, wait a couple more months for us to take applications again.’ I think the openness and flexibility give us a bit of an advantage.”
We’re less than a month away from TechCrunch Disrupt, and I’m already excited. It’s going to be great, a motivational talk, a realization and a week not to be missed. Here is the full scheduleand this is where you can get your Tickets.
- First, use code “STARTUPS” to get a special reader discount for Disrupt tickets. We are less than a month away!
- We also have a special for those affected by layoffs. If you got fired go here to get a free ticket to the TechCrunch Disrupt Expo.
While I have you, let’s talk some more. As you know, I co-host Equity, which comes out three times a week and is TC’s longest-running podcast. We also have some best friends to listen to, including our cryptocurrency-focused show going by Chain Reaction Y founder-focused program going through Found. The TechCrunch Podcast is also a must, so pay attention to all the good shows they are putting on.
Spotted on TechCrunch
Spotted on TechCrunch+
Same time, same website, next week?