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.

  1. All Eyes on Crowdfunding – Crowdfunding has exploded in popularity in recent years as startups realize the value of using online platforms for investment syndication. This year, Federal regulators took a big step towards letting average Americans invest in riskier small-business projects when 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.
  2. Noteworthy Tech IPOs – Fitbit led the news for all the right reasons. Shares of the SF-based fitness device maker spiked after its June 18 IPO opened at $20 per share on the New York Stock Exchange. Where did that put Fitbit’s total market cap? About $6.42 billion…And with Silicon Valley’s top startups raking in funds, Atlassian decided to join the fray – going big despite the recent chill in tech IPO exits.
  3. Leadership Diversity in Silicon Valley with Female Entrepreneurs in the Spotlight – Statistics released in March by Y Combinator showed that its startup founders are overwhelmingly white and male – a reminder of the need for diverse leadership among startup companies. Separately, the U.S. Census Bureau data, released in August 2015, showed that, although the growth rate of new businesses overall had stalled, the share of women-owned small businesses climbed. Indeed, the number of women-owned businesses grew at a 27% clip between 2007 and 2012 – during which time the total number of U.S. businesses grew by only 2%. This is very encouraging in light of the challenges the startup community has faced in boosting the number of companies founded by women entrepreneurs.
  4. SEC Delivers on the RAISE and JOBS Acts – The SEC finalized rules under the JOBS Act, giving a boost to startups looking to raise capital through small public offerings. And the U.S. Congress considered and passed legislation – the Reforming Access for Investments in Startup Enterprises (RAISE) Act – that might help tackle the problem of startup liquidity.
    • SEC finalizes key JOBS Act rules that facilitate startup capital-raising through small public offerings. (Washington Post)
  5. To Encrypt or Not to Encrypt – The brewing showdown between Silicon Valley and several members of Congress peaked over whether to curb encrypted communications or allow law enforcement to gain new access to records. Given the sharp reversal this represents from a multi-year shift towards more privacy, technology companies expressed concerns that services that boost consumer privacy from spying or hackers may get undermined by national security efforts.

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