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Founders Flash: Lessons From Funding During an Unpredictable Market

If you were seeking venture capital funding in the fourth quarter of 2016, CEO and tech entrepreneur Mark Woodward feels your pain. When his company began Series D funding in September, Woodward couldn’t predict that the market would drop and that funding would drop 30 percent.

Founders Flash: 2015 Rewind - Five Notable Startup Themes

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.

Founders Flash: How Do I[PO] Love Thee? Let Match/Tinder/OkCupid Count the (Billions of) Ways

Though not overly partial to emojis, The Flash <hearts> a savvy IPO play – and that’s just what we’re seeing in the move to conjoin Tinder, Match.com and OkCupid for an upcoming IPO. Brought together by IAC/InteractiveCorp as The Match Group, this three-headed online dating hydra is led by Tinder, which may see its valuation top $1B this year. To The Flash, that seems like just the right foundation for wedded bliss.

We also checked in with the key labor issue faced by sharing economy startups and other companies: how and under what conditions an independent contractor must be considered an employee of the parent company. The Flash previously alerted readers to the California labor commissioner’s determination that an Uber driver is an employee of the company – not an independent contractor – and the related implications. Now we’re seeing other startups in the “1099 economy” space – including Instacart and Shyp – moving to reclassify contractors as part-time employees. This issue is surely one to watch.

Check out these and other posts in The Flash!

Founders Flash: Fitbit Shares Spike After High-Profile IPO

Fitbit is once again back in the news – and atop The Flash – for all the right reasons. Shares of the SF-based fitness device maker were spiking late last week after its June 18 IPO opened at $20 per share on the New York Stock Exchange. Where does that put Fitbit’s total market cap? About $6.42 billion…

And with Silicon Valley’s top startups raking in funds, Airbnb has decided to join the fray. The online home/apartment rental facilitator is looking to raise $1B in venture capital, based on a valuation of $24 billion – more than double its $10B valuation of just one year ago. Somewhere Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz are nodding and smiling…

Speaking of which – Andreessen Horowitz are actually making a case against a tech bubble. (of course they are!)

See these and more in The Flash!

Founders Flash: Fitbit Moves to Box Out Apple Watch, Jawbone with Coming IPO

The Flash has long been bullish on the market potential of wearable technology, recognizing that – from watches to glasses – we will all soon be wearing the web. This now-vibrant consumer industry is not just a fashion or fitness statement – it’s also big business. Indeed, The Flash took note at Fitbit’s announcement that it plans to raise nearly $500M from its IPO later this year. We shall see if the first-mover advantage bolsters the SF-based company in its upcoming battles with Apple, Jawbone, Nike and Microsoft…

The Flash also checks in with one of America’s iconic cities – Detroit. Though Motown has had its bumps of late, early sprouts of innovation are starting to shoot. The Flash is a big believer that innovation drives job creation, and the Motor City is looking to prove that with a series of initiatives to lure startup companies and founders.

These and more in this week’s edition of The Flash!

Founders Flash: Snap‘cash’?! Snapchat Co-founder Announces IPO Plan and more

We at The Flash are no longer teenagers, and thus may largely be (according to Slate’s Will Oremus) befuddled by Snapchat. But we do understand the intricacies of taking a company public – and that’s just what co-founder Evan Spiegel said (at Code Conference 2015) he is planning for Snapchat. With nearly 100 million daily users and a valuation of $15 billion, this young company is certainly one to watch. Code Conference was also where BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said that he was likewise planning an IPO.

And…consolidation is afoot in the tech publishing world, with Re/code being acquired by Vox – reflecting the perils of failing to either go big or go niche.

Finally, The Flash also checked in with headlines from the Google I/O conference – the annual software developer-focused event held in San Fran this past week. The biggest bombshell? Well, let’s just say that Now on Tap (a new feature of its Android OS) promises to change everything about the way you use your phone.

All in this week’s version of The Flash!

Founders Flash: Spotify Wants to Be a Bigger Part of Your Life…and Scott McNealy’s back!

Here comes the All-Around Entertaining App! The on-demand subscription music service Spotify first won our hearts by giving us access to all the tunes we wanted. Now it’s looking to take on bigger competitors (we’re looking at you, Apple), and is rolling out a new app that seeks to make the company an unlimited source of video and podcasts. The Flash certainly took note of this aggressive move. We also applauded the re-entry of Scott McNealy to the entrepreneurial ring – the former Sun Microsystems CEO (and tech/SV rock star) announced this week that he’s taking the reins at Wayin, a social marketing startup he co-founded five years ago.

The Flash looks at these and other stories. Check it out!

Founders Flash: Box Developer Edition – Startups Now Have $40M Reasons to Give It a Try

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)

Founders Flash: For $1.5B, LinkedIn Makes lynda.com Its Biggest Acquisition Yet

Leading The Flash this week is the news that LinkedIn will spend $1.5B to buy career-skills educator lynda.com (Hat Tip: Larry Chu and members of GP’s M&A team), a website launched 20 years ago that has emerged as a leader in professional training videos. Has the professional social network company shot its bolt? Not even close, as market watchers expect future buys by LinkedIn to strengthen vertical segments like sales, as well as broader plays that may include job marketplaces. And in a look at exit strategies, we see a challenging trend in which Q1 VC investments are flying high, but venture exits via IPO decline – a possible trouble sign for VC firms. Check out these stories and more in this week’s Flash!

Founders Flash: Silicon Valley startups still searching for leadership diversity, Y Combinator says

The Flash this week looks at statistics released last week by Y Combinator during its semiannual Demo Day, and sees that its startup founders are overwhelmingly white and male. Though the lack of diversity in tech has been well covered, these numbers serve as a reminder of the need for diverse leadership among startup companies. The Flash also updates on an ongoing topic of focus for FWB: the JOBS Act. Recently finalized SEC rules should help startups raise capital through small public offerings – but we shall see if that is the effect. We also pull out some video footage of Box CEO and Co-Founder Aaron Levie explaining marketplace perceptions of the company, which went public in February (with Goodwin Procter representing the underwriter in the IPO). Check out these and others in our weekly roundup for Founders Flash!