The Flash takes stock as 2015 draws to a close. We look back on everything from the JOBS Act to high-profile tech IPOs to diversity and business trends impacting startups. Throughout the year, The Flash sought to flag the most interesting stories and articles that our readers – entrepreneurs, tech-industry players, and the teams that support them – would find most compelling. Come with us as we take a quick tour of five startup-related news moments of 2015 we think you’ll find worthwhile to review this year-end.
The Flash feels your pain if holiday travel causes difficulty, and understands the possible longing for human travel agents as in days of yore. That’s why we note with interest an emerging startup trend: online booking companies that are trying to put human agents, whether in travel, home services or shopping, back at the center of decisions. In an A.I. age, might humans actually…add value?
The Flash offered loud applause when the U.S. Congress passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (“JOBS”) Act in 2012, especially the provision tasking the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) with setting the final rules for Title III of the legislation – the provision implementing equity crowdfunding. After receiving wide-ranging – and voluminous – comments on the proposed crowdfunding regulations, the SEC spent the past year reviewing such input and working to complete the final equity crowdfunding rules.
The Flash has long touted the opportunities presented by crowdfunding, which has exploded in popularity in recent years as startups realize the value of using online platforms for investment syndication. That’s why we took note last week when federal regulators took a big step towards letting average Americans invest in riskier small-business projects. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved its final set of rules governing crowdfunding, clearing the way for entrepreneurs and other small business owners to bypass banks and appeal directly to the “crowd” in raising funds for their startup and other business ventures.
This week The Flash checks in from WIRED Money 2015, where the headliners included MIT Media Lab director of digital currency Brian Forde. The most exciting innovations in digital currencies will come from developing countries, where financial infrastructure is not as strong, according to Forde. He believes Western consumers don’t fully appreciate the “economic revolution” that’s upon us in the form of digital currency. To wit: “Today, in 2015, I still can’t use Paypal to send money to friends in Nicaragua,” Forde said at the conference. “But I can send them Bitcoin instantly.”
The Flash also got its crowdfunding fix during a talk by Darren Westlake, co-founder and CEO of leading investment crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. Westlake said the future of crowdfunding is a more democratized platform that will “put the P back into IPO.”
The Flash hears that. These stories and more in this week’s Founders Flash!
- Highlights from WIRED Money 2015:
- Startups can’t afford to ignore the government (Tech Crunch)
- 86% of Etsy sellers are women (Wall Street Journal)
- Big data startup Palantir Technologies raises $450M on $20B valuation (Forbes)
- Can a LinkedIn for athletes replace sports agents? (Bloomberg)
Pretty much the entire business and tech community was watching Twitter this week, and The Flash was no exception. CEO Dick Costolo, who has run Twitter for the past five years, was replaced this week by the company’s board. Twitter cofounder and former CEO Jack Dorsey will step in as interim chief executive while the board looks for a permanent replacement to Costolo. The Flash notes community suggestions about who should replace Costolo as CEO, and what business steps that new leader should take to optimize Twitter’s market position.
The Flash also goes deep into the question: “Can you tell me what code is?” Instead of answering, The Flash references an excellent 38,000-word answer to this existential question.
These and more in this week’s edition of The Flash!
- Twitter Board shows CEO Dick Costolo the door, Jack Dorsey to step in (NY Times)
- What is code? An answer in 38,000 words (Bloomberg)
- ADP sues Zenefits for defamation, rolls out a competing service (TechCrunch)
- Tech startups woo investors with…inflated numbers? (Wall Street Journal)
- FTC takes first action to protect consumers from crowdfunding misfires, forcing settlement from board game maker’s $122K Kickstarter campaign (Wall Street Journal)
A mere 10 months after raising $25 million from marquee investors – at a valuation of $100 million – the anonymous social-networking app ‘Secret’ shut down this week. You can bet the Flash took note of that precipitous shut-down. As always, we’re closely following crowdfunding news, but this cycle we’re seeing some backlash against the popular fundraising platform. The NY Times Magazine looks at jilted investors in the failed ZPM Espresso crowdfunding/KickStarter campaign (who are sharpening their knives), while Gizmodo is soliciting examples of fraudulent crowdfunding campaigns for a future compilation.
Check out these stories and more in this week’s Founders Flash!
- How long does it take for a startup to go from $100 million to $0? If you are Secret, the anonymous social networking app, the answer is: 10 months. (Forbes)
- What happens when a crowdfunding campaign fails to launch? If investors in the failed ZPM Espresso launch are any indication, they can get testy. (NY Times Magazine)
- Crowdfunding is powerful and growing – but examples of fraud abound across the increasingly popular platform. Share any stories of fraudulent crowdfunding campaigns here. (Gizmodo)
- Momofuku owner David Chang just launched Maple, a food-delivery startup looking to disrupt the food takeout industry. Will he do for food delivery what he did for ramen noodles? (Entrepreneur)
- Gett looks to outpace Uber by offering services beyond transportation – including food, beauty and home maintenance. (TechCrunch)
- VC firms looking for the next Facebook are recruiting ever-younger founders – beginning in college with mentoring and funding for startups with potential. (Wall Street Journal)
Box leads The Flash this week, offering startups 40 million reasons to use Box Developer Edition, its file sharing and cloud management platform created in partnership with VC firms Bessemer and Emergence. The Flash has noted Box’s ability to garner consistently favorable business headlines since going public in March (Goodwin Procter represented the underwriter in the IPO). And SV BizJo takes a good look at the real story behind the recent funding boom: “private IPOs.” Also – Hola…what? Maybe it’s time for your company to go ‘Holacracy’…Read these and more in this week’s Founders Flash!
- Box to startups: use Box Developer Edition and access a new $40M pool of money to get you started. (Mashable; VentureBeat)
- Crowdfunding is making news, but startups and small businesses remain hesitant to embrace this new fundraising tool. (Forbes)
- What’s the real story behind the recent startup funding boom? ‘Private IPOs’ by companies that get funding from mutual funds, hedge funds, private equity investors and even sovereign funds. (Silicon Valley Business Journal)
- Looking for an alt-management structure for your biz? Try going ‘Holacracy’ – Tony Hsieh is giving it a go! (Fast Company)
Online crafts seller Etsy debuted on Wall Street last week, and The Flash certainly took notice. In addition to the company’s volatile stock movement, The Flash learned a few interesting tidbits about this hot company: Etsy is the largest B-Corp to go through the IPO process, and the company has NEVER turned a profit (and may never do so…). The JOBS Act – a long-time FWB fave for its potential to help emerging growth companies – continues getting favorable coverage for crowdfunding and other programs. We also check in with leading VC firm Andreessen Horowitz after its recent hiring of Facebook’s former GC, who will help startups with regulatory and legal challenges.
Get these and more in The Flash!
Startup Trends in 2015
Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which has invested in some of today’s most talked-about startups, shares its predictions for the startup community in the year ahead. Several trends that were already on our radar in 2014, including security, digital health, online market places, crowdfunding and bitcoin, are expected to continue shaping the industry, along with newer concepts like virtual reality, the full-stack startup, containers and DevOps.
Read more from “16 Startup Trends That Will Be Huge In 2015” (Business Insider).