Welcome to Startups Weekly, a nuanced look at this week’s startup news and trends by Senior Reporter and Equity co-host Natasha Mascarenhas. Subscribe to receive it in your inbox here.
Sometimes, due to the nature of the startup game, we index too much on “the new.” Companies want to build for the pain point you never dreamed of; VCs want to invest in an emerging trend before it becomes a household name; and those breaking into technology are told to lean into their seriousness because you never know who is going to answer your cold email. For entrepreneurship to feel exciting and welcoming – not even being, but feeling – new has to be one of its loudest features.
After all, you can only be “it” once.
But one question I’ve been asking myself over the past year, especially as some tenure people talk about past recessions and cyclical learning lessons, is the benefit of the latecomer. It’s partly clear: if you’ve done this whole entrepreneurship thing before, you understand what mistakes to avoid and you know seamlessly which investors to avoid.
But it’s also partly not that easy of a story. There is a difference between being new and being inexperienced, just as there is a difference between being experienced and being late. How do you know where you are on that whole timeline – especially when the stories are more tellable in the extremes?
This week on Equity, I interviewed Sarah Oh, co-founder of T2, who is building a Twitter rival after working at Twitter as a human rights consultant. Pretty soon I asked her how you feel about building a copycat of your former employer. She seemed unfazed, to which I promptly said, all is fair in love and in moderation.
But the better answer Oh gave me was about the latecomer advantage she has, building a business in a world she knows extremely well. By joining the consumer social wave today rather than before anyone even thought in characters and retweets, the co-founder believes they can bring in more nuance.
“There is a lot we know about trust and security gaps in the industry, whether it be datasets we need, or models that need to be built, or certain standards that need to exist for models. things that I wish I had in my previous roles that just didn’t exist, we’re in a place now where we can have those conversations,” Oh said. She added that when some of the first social media platforms were created, there were no “historical case studies or precedents” for many of the controversies that exist today. With some of the ugly ones out of the way — my words, not hers — T2 has examples it can refer to on how to handle tensions around virality, doxxing, and more.
It just got me thinking about that greater understanding combined with the agility of a startup. Perhaps the fact that it’s both old and new is the striking balance that helps a startup get started. In this case, we have no idea how the old or the new attempts at Twitter will fare, but we do know that this time never mattered again.
In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about chief inspiration officers, growing startup accelerators, and a rare buzz we hear about a tech company and its public market desires. As always you can follow me Twitter or Instagram.
Goodbye, chief inspiration officer
Also on Equity this week, the crew talked about how venture capitalists are starting to pay more attention to how portfolio founders spend capital, especially around hiring trends. Becca’s latest for TC+ — use code EQUITY for 50% off an annual membership — addresses why the hiring slide in the pitch deck will no longer be a throwaway part of the presentation.
Expect more control.
Here’s why this is important: We know companies are dropping staff to cut costs, but those hiring may need to take a more conservative approach in both types of roles and pay level. All in all, there is definitely a chance to find talent when you hire someone. But it won’t be easy for you all fired talent to find their next gigs, especially as employers look for cheaper talent with less ambitious staffing goals.
Goldilocks moon photo
NextView Ventures has launched its fourth accelerator program, aiming to support approximately six founders with $400,000 in funding and mentorship opportunities. It also offers at least one spot to a team put together by ex-colleagues laid off during the past recession.
Here’s why this is important: The accelerator partners are open to supporting founders, even if they have a half-baked idea or just an area they want to delve into. Even in a more disciplined market, there are some companies that are still comfortable with seeding ideas versus full-fledged business ideas. “It’s almost half a step ahead of what we’ve typically thought of,” Rob Go, co-founder of NextView Ventures, said of the cohorts.
Stripe finally looks for an exit. The payments giant has set itself a 12-month deadline to go public, either through an instant listing or through a private market transaction such as a fundraiser and offer, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Here’s why this is important: I mean, should I state the obvious? The public markets for tech companies have been stale, unwelcoming, add a boring adjective here. If Stripe kicks off a trend, we’re in for an exciting year next year. But some are iffy on the timeline. After all, it is literally easier said than done.
Seen on australiabusinessblog.com
What we thought was happening with robot investments is definitely happening
App downloads stagnated in the fourth quarter, new analysis shows
Then call them ‘robots’
Strava acquires Fatmap, a 3D mapping platform for the great outdoors
LastPass owner GoTo says hackers stole customer backups
Seen on australiabusinessblog.com+
The current lawsuits against generative AI are just the beginning
A VC’s perspective on deep tech fundraising in Q1 2023
With activist investors turning to Salesforce, what’s next for the CRM giant?
Fired from your crypto job? This is what founders look for in new talent
Startups should expect more attention from VCs on their hiring plans
I end with the evergreen reminder that I absolutely love kicking up happy hours and VC dinners in San Francisco, so let me know if you throw one! And if you’re still working on your social engine like me, I’m always willing to do a 1:1 coffee chat or dumpling lunch too.
To the rest of you, thanks for reading as always. 2023 is already flying by, isn’t it?