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Month: January 2019

Kleiner Perkins gets back to early stage with its $600M 18th fund

“KP used be a small team doing hands-on company building. We’re moving away from being this institution with multiple products and really just focusing on early stage venture capital” Kleiner Perkins partner Ilya Fushman tells me. 47 years after its founding, the storied venture fund is going “back to the future” with today’s announcement of a 18th fund — a $600 million fund for seed, Series A, and Series B financings. It’s investing across consumer, enterprise, hard tech, and fintech, looking for high-potential teams to help mold into unicorns. Kleiner Perkins partner Ilya Fushman “We went out to market to LPs. We got a lot of interest. We we were significantly oversubscribed” Fushman says of the firm’s raise. Kleiner Perki...

Houzz resets user passwords after data breach

Houzz, a $4 billion-valued home improvement startup that recently laid off 10 percent of its staff, has admitted a data breach. A reader contacted TechCrunch on Thursday with a copy of an email sent by the company. It doesn’t say much — such as when the breach happened, what was stolen, or if a hacker to blame or if it was a data exposure that the company could’ve prevented. Houzz spokesperson Gabriela Hebert would not comment beyond an FAQ posted on the company’s website, citing an ongoing investigation. In that FAQ, the company said it “recently learned that a file containing some of our user data was obtained by an unauthorized third party.” It added: “We immediately launched an investigation and engaged with a leading forensics firm to assist in our ...

The top 10 European cities for start-ups to launch in after Brexit

Measuring factors such as corporation tax, exporting costs, the number of coworking spaces and the price of a cup of coffee, we list the European cities likely to fuel your start-up growth… Source: Startups

Step targets teens and parents with a no-fees mobile bank account and Visa card

A new mobile banking startup called Step wants to help bring teenagers and other young adults into the cashless era. Today, cash is used less often, as more consumers shop online and send money to one another through payment apps like Venmo. But teenagers in particular are still heavily burdened with cash — even though they, too, want to spend their money on things that require a payment card, like Amazon.com purchases or mobile gaming, for example. That’s where Step comes in. The company aims to address the needs of what it believes is an underserved market in mobile banking — the 75 million children and young adults under the age of 21 in the U.S., who are still being forced to use cash. This market isn’t the “unbanked,” it’s the “pre-banke...

Dadi brings in $2M to democratize sperm storage

The founders of Dadi — pronounced daddy — think men are in need of a wake-up call. “Men [have] a biological clock just like women, which is something that people don’t talk about,” Dadi co-founder and chief executive officer Tom Smith told TechCrunch. “Infertility isn’t a women’s issue; It’s both a men’s and women’s issue.” Smith believes Dadi, the provider of a temperature-controlled at-home fertility test and sperm collection kit, will encourage men to contribute to family planning conversations and become more aware of their reproductive health. The startup is officially launching its kit and long-term sperm storage service today with nearly $2 million in venture capital funding from London-based seed fund firstminu...

Sencrop is a data platform to help farmers manage their lands

Meet Sencrop a French startup that wants to empower farmers using sensors, a data platform and a service marketplace. The company recently raised a $10 million funding round. The Series A round was led by Bpifrance with NCI Waterstart, Nord Capital and The Yield Lab also participating. Existing investors Demeter and Breega Capital also reinvested. If you’re a farmer and are getting started when it comes to leveraging data, Sencrop wants to be a one-stop shop for all your digital needs. The company sells connected stations that can measure temperature, humidity, rainfall, windspeed, etc. Each station costs between $340 and $570 (between €300 and €500) and you can have as many as you want. You can install the station yourself — it’s as easy as planting a post. After that, you pay a subscript...

Meet the 20 startups in this year’s GCT Startup-in-Residence program

At the end of last year, Grand Central Tech announced plans to work with the Milstein real estate family to transform a midtown Manhttan high-rise into a tech hub called Company. And startups remain an important part of the mix — in fact, Company is unveiling a list of 20 startups participating in this year’s GCT Startup-in-Residence program. What does Startup-in-Residence mean? Well, Company CEO Matthew Harrigan said the program will continue to offer what it’s always offered — desk space, as well as access to events and amenities, for a select group of early-stage entrepreneurs. And participants don’t have to give up equity or pay rent. The deal might seem too good to be true, but Harrigan argued that the startups make Company more appealing to its enterprise tenants: &...

Rebooted startup program WeWork Labs celebrates its one-year anniversary

It’s been just about a year since the relaunch of WeWork Labs, an accelerator-type program operating under the WeWork umbrella. Since then, it’s grown to 37 locations in 22 cities. And it’s truly international, operating in 12 countries, including Brazil, China, Germany and India. These Labs offices are often — but not always — housed within a larger WeWork space, and, like an accelerator, they offer mentorship and programming. However, WeWork doesn’t take any equity; instead, it simply makes money by charging rent. (In New York, a desk costs between $450 and $550 a month, but the price varies by location.) I spoke to Roee Adler, the program’s global head, about how the program has evolved over the past year. Adler actually has a long history with startups — i...

Cosmic JS wants to simplify web development, so you can focus on content

If you are a web developer, you know how complex many of the traditional web content management systems have been. One of the big problems has been managing the underlying infrastructure for the system. Cosmic JS, a member of the Winter 2019 Y Combinator class, wants to simplify that by taking care of the infrastructure part for you, while providing a flexible front end for content creators. “Our customers benefit from using Cosmic because they can avoid the pain of building and maintaining their own CMS infrastructure. For a monthly service fee, we provide a seamless infrastructure for them, and it allows them to focus on what really matters, building great products and user experiences,” Cosmic JS CEO and co-founder Tony Spiro told TechCrunch. As with so many YC companies, th...

How business-to-business startups reduce inequality

Sibjeet Mahapatra Contributor Share on Twitter Sib Mahapatra is a writer and co-founder of Bureau, an end-to-end office furniture startup in NYC. More posts by this contributor VR, presence and the case of the missing killer app The bull case for Snapchat When considering the structural impact of technology companies on our economy and society, we tend to focus on questions of scale and monopoly. It’s true that the FAANG companies and more recent winners (Airbnb, Uber) have surfed a combination of network effects, preferential access to capital and classic efficiencies of scale to generate tremendous value for their shareholders—to the detriment of new entrants who attempt to unseat them. At their high water mark in mid-2018, FAANG alone made up 11% of the total market cap of the S&P 5...

FabFitFun raises $80 million for its growing lifestyle brand

Nine years after launching its online magazine, and three years after diversifying into the subscription box business, FabFitFun has raised $80 million in a growth round of funding, led by Kleiner Perkins, with participation from its previous investors Upfront Ventures and NEA.  The Los Angeles-based company has steadily expanded its retail and lifestyle empire through subscription boxes, video… and even an augmented reality app. Last year the company crossed $200 million in revenue and managed to net more than 1 million subscribers for the service. FabFitFun surpasses $200 million in revenue as it hits million-subscriber milestone In a statement the company said the new financing would be used to expand FabFitFun membership offerings and consolidate its position as a marketing partn...

It Takes Courage In Business To Change The Status Quo

According to recent articles, more than half of the businesses that once appeared on the Fortune 500 list have disappeared in the last twenty years, and the rate of departure is increasing. I’m convinced this is happening because most companies don’t have the courage to keep up with the escalating rate of change in the market today. Business as usual is no longer good enough. From my years of experience in big companies, as well as startups, I can attest that the courage to promote change is not something often seen, or even encouraged, in most employees or executives. Rather, the opposite is usually true; it’s better to play it safe, rather than risk being wrong. The problem is that most business people associate the word “courage” with excessive risk, to be left for individuals who are i...

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