Lies, damn lies, and crypto analytics

For the past twelve years I’ve followed the rise of the startup – defined as a small business with global ambitions – from my perch at TechCrunch. During that period I watched business reporting change from a sleepy backwater on the back of the Sports section into a juggernaut, a force that controls the global conversation. Why? Because business reporting became war reporting and the battles fought were between VCs, businesses, and ideas that changed the world. In that period, VCs rose from glorified bank tellers to rock stars. Incubators popped up to socialize nervous founders and turn them into capital F Founders and the path for startups became a codified journey from failure to success. Now we’re seeing the same thing happen in ICOs. But something is wrong. The startups coming out of the ICO craze aren’t being judged on the character of their founders, on their technologies, or
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Singapore sovereign fund Temasek takes stake in tech events firm Unbound

Media exits happen, but typically you don’t hear of tech events companies being sold. Well, that’s the case in Singapore where SingEx — a subsidiary of the country’s Temasek sovereign wealth fund — has forked out to buy a majority share in Unbound Innovations, a five-year-old UK-based business that runs technology events worldwide. Details of the transaction were not made public, but TechCrunch understands from a source that SingEx bought a majority share in Unbound in a deal that values the company at £18 million, or around $23.5 million. A second source explained that the deal is akin to a joint venture, which roughly splits the company in half between Unbound and SingEx. In that case, the original investment from SingEx would be around the $12 million mark. Unbound has been around since 2013 but it seems to have struck out with its Innovfest event series, which has focused on uniting
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States will be able to charge sales tax on online purchases thanks to the Supreme Court

In a five-to-four decision issued today, the Supreme Court ruled that states can make online businesses collect sales taxes — even if they don’t have a physical presence in that state. Today’s ruling overturns a decision from the Court in 1992 that paved the way for the explosion of online retail in the United States.

At issue was the Quill Corp. v. North Dakota decision, which ruled that companies need to have at least some physical connection with a state for that state can require that company to pay taxes. Today’s ruling caused publicly traded e-commerce companies share prices to tumble, with Shopify, Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Alibaba all recording losses in midday trading on their respective U.S. exchanges. It’s a huge win for vendors with physical storefronts which have long argued that

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TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield is coming soon to Beirut, São Paolo and Lagos

Everyone knows there are thriving startup communities outside of obvious hubs, like San Francisco, Berlin, Bangalore and Beijing, but they don’t always get the support they deserve. Last year, TechCrunch took a major page from its playbook, the Startup Battlefield competition, and staged the event in Nairobi, Kenya to find the best early stage startup in Sub-Saharan Africa, and also to Sydney, Australia, to find the same for Australia and New Zealand. Both were successes, thanks to talented founders and the hard traveling TechCrunch team. And now we’re pleased to announce that we’re stepping up our commitment to emerging ecosystems. TechCrunch is once again teaming up with Facebook, our partner for last year’s Nairobi event, to bring the Startup Battlefield to three major cities representing regions with vital, emerging startup communities. In Beirut, TechCrunch’s editors will strive to find the best early stage startup in the Middle East
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AT&T completes its acquisition of Time Warner

AT&T has sealed the deal to buy Time Warner in a major piece of media and technology consolidation. The deal — which is $85.4 billion and a total of $108 billion with debt — was first announced in October 2016 and, having passed a court approval earlier this week, it was completed on Thursday. That’s a long cycle to complete a transaction, but this is a complicated one that sees AT&T take control of Time Warner, as well as HBO, Warner Brother’s film studio and its Turner channels. That’s likely to create a complicated web of conflicts, as both media distribution and content creation come together under the same parent. “The content and creative talent at Warner Bros., HBO and Turner are first-rate. Combine all that with AT&T’s strengths in direct-to-consumer distribution, and we offer customers a differentiated, high-quality, mobile-first entertainment experience,” Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of
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The race to build autonomous delivery robots rolls on

It’s been a busy year in delivery robot land.

Starship Technologies sounded the starting gun to bring autonomous delivery vehicles to market with a $17.2 million round led by Daimler back in January 2017. Then in January this year the Mountain View, Calif.-based company Nuro, raised the curtain on its own vision for robo-delivery with a whopping $92 million in funding. Meanwhile, upstart Robomart has its own notion for delivery vehicles that it unveiled at CES. And not to be outdone, everyone’s favorite Chinese retail powerhouse, Alibaba, announced its own self-driving delivery vehicle.

Now, there’s Boxbot, the still-stealthy startup developing autonomous delivery somethings, which has picked up new cash as the race to build delivery bots rolls on.

Boxbot is a latecomer in the field. The Oakland-based company boasts impressive pedigrees from its founders — former Tesla engineer Austin Oehlerking and Mark Godwin, an entrepreneur who was

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Here is where CEOs of heavily funded startups went to school

CEOs of funded startups tend to be a well-educated bunch, at least when it comes to university degrees. Yes, it’s true college dropouts like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates can still do well. But Crunchbase data shows that most startup chief executives have an advanced degree, commonly from a well-known and prestigious university. Earlier this month, Crunchbase News looked at U.S. universities with strong track records for graduating future CEOs of funded companies. This unearthed some findings that, while interesting, were not especially surprising. Stanford and Harvard topped the list, and graduates of top-ranked business schools were particularly well-represented. In this next installment of our CEO series, we narrowed the data set. Specifically, we looked at CEOs of U.S. companies funded in the past three years that have raised at least $100 million in total venture financing. Our intent was to see whether educational backgrounds of unicorn and
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Shared housing startups are taking off

When young adults leave the parental nest, they often follow a predictable pattern. First, move in with roommates. Then graduate to a single or couple’s pad. After that comes the big purchase of a single-family home. A lawnmower might be next. Looking at the new home construction industry, one would have good reason to presume those norms were holding steady. About two-thirds of new homes being built in the U.S. this year are single-family dwellings, complete with tidy yards and plentiful parking. In startup-land, however, the presumptions about where housing demand is going looks a bit different. Home sharing is on the rise, along with more temporary lease options, high-touch service and smaller spaces in sought-after urban locations.

Seeking roommates and venture capital

Crunchbase News analysis of residential-focused real estate startups uncovered a raft of companies with a shared and temporary housing focus that have raised funding in
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Some of the top female founders in the U.S. are backing the latest Female Founders Fund

Roughly five years after the launch of its first fund in 2013, Female Founders Fund (F3) has closed on $27 million for its latest seed fund — backed by some of the startup world’s top women entrepreneurs and investors. Backed by a clutch of seriously impressive names in the startup and tech community, entrepreneurs financed by F3’s latest endeavor can count on a rolodex that includes Melinda Gates, the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Fooundation; Katrina Lake, the founder and CEO of StitchFix; Jenny Fleiss, the co-founder of Rent the Runway and Code 8; Hayley Barna, the co-founder of Birchbox and a partner at First Round Capital; Elizabeth Cutler, the co-founder of SoulCycle; Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code; and Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder of Bumble . Launched by Anu Duggal with an $8 million first fund in 2013, F3 managed to amass an impressive portfolio of 30
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Ran Krauss and Yariv Bash, leaders at two of Israel’s hottest drone startups, are joining us in Tel Aviv

Yariv Bash, the chief executive of drone delivery startup Flytrex, wants to make drone delivery “as easy as using your iPhone“.

Flytrex chief executive Yariv Bash

Meanwhile, Ran Krauss, the CEO of Airobotics, has helped his startup raise over $70 million for its mission to  bring the autonomous revolution to the drone industry. Both men are leading two Israeli companies at the forefront of innovation in drone technologies and both will be onstage with us in Tel Aviv for our inaugural event in “startup nation”. Bash’s Flytrex claims that it was the first in the world to deploy a fully operational, regulatory approved drone delivery service. Before he began working on the drone business, he led the non-profit Lunar X-Prize entrant SpaceIL.

Airobotics chief executive Ran Krauss

Since leaving Ben Gurion University, Krauss has founded four companies including Airobotics. Bladeworx was a provider of aerial photography, imaging
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The formula behind San Francisco’s startup success

Why has San Francisco’s startup scene generated so many hugely valuable companies over the past decade? That’s the question we asked over the past few weeks while analyzing San Francisco startup funding, exit, and unicorn creation data. After all, it’s not as if founders of Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, Dropbox and Twitter had to get office space within a couple of miles of each other. We hadn’t thought our data-centric approach would yield a clear recipe for success. San Francisco private and newly public unicorns are a diverse bunch, numbering more than 30, in areas ranging from ridesharing to online lending. Surely the path to billion-plus valuations would be equally varied. But surprisingly, many of their secrets to success seem formulaic. The most valuable San Francisco companies to arise in the era of the smartphone have a number of shared traits, including a willingness and ability to post massive, sustained
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Elon Musk’s latest SpaceX idea involves a party balloon and bounce house

Elon Musk took to Twitter Sunday night to announce a new recovery method for an upper stage SpaceX rocket. A balloon — a “giant party balloon” to quote him directly — will ferry part of a rocket to a bounce house. Seriously. If anyone else proposed this idea they would be ignored, but Elon Musk lately has a way of turning crazy ideas into reality. It was just in 2012 that SpaceX launched and landed its first rocket and now the company is doing it with rockets significantly larger. And then early this year SpaceX made a surprise announcement that it would attempt to use a high-speed boat and large net to catch part of rocket. And it worked after a failed first attempt.

New York’s programming ed tech startup, General Assembly, sells to Adecco for $413 million

The European human resources services company Adecco Group said that is acquiring the New York-based, programming, design, and management training startup General Assembly for $413 million. With the acquisition, Adecco adds to its ability to provide job training and re-skilling services for businesses. It’s proof that General Assembly’s own business has come a long way since its early days as a startup offering continuing education or training programs for new entrants into the tech-enabled white collar workforce. General Assembly was worth $440 million after its last, $70 million investment round, according to a report in Axios, which means that early stage investors will see a nice return on their investment while many later stage backers — including Wellington Management and Fresco Capital are looking at some pretty flat returns. Investors likely popping some corks right now include Alex Ohanian’s Initialized Capital, Maveron, and Bezos Expeditions, the venture capital fund of
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Lessons from cybersecurity exits

To: ceo@cybersecuritystartup.com

Subject: Lessons from cybersecurity exits
Dear F0und3r:

What a month this has been for cybersecurity! One unicorn IPO and two nice acquisitions – Zscaler’s great debut on wall street,  a $300 million acquisition of Evident.io by Palo Alto Networks and a $350 million acquisition of Phantom Cyber by Splunk has gotten all of us excited.

Word on the street is that in each of those exits, the founders took home ~30% to 40% of the proceeds. Which is not bad for ~ 4 /5 years of work. They can finally afford to buy two bedroom homes in Silicon Valley.

Evident.IO Investment Rounds and Return estimates

Date

Select Investors

Round

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HelpSelf uses simple AI to help those in legal trouble

HelpSelf is a AI-assisted legal app that helps you deal with simple issues. Need protection against debt collectors? Need an expungement? Want to deal with domestic violence? This robot can help. The project is an “automated legal technology company” that automates simple legal procedures. They currently work in the above areas but are moving into housing, family law, certain immigration tasks, and employment law, said Dorna Moini, co-founder of the project. “We self-funded from the start and are completely bootstrapped. We are making a profit through licensing fees for our document automation platform,” she said. “We use this document automation platform to create all of our new products and license it to lawyers to fund the tools we create. We just brought on another engineer and may be looking for funding in the next few months so we can expand more quickly.” Moini has a background in trial litigation
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Join me at the amazing Blue Lacuna space in Chicago

Some folks I met in Chicago are holding an amazing event at a great place on South Canalport Avenue. This former macaroni factory now builds startups and I’ll be helping judge their pitch-off alongside some Chicago luminaries. You can RSVP here and sign up for a spot to pitch here. We’ll choose eight startups to pitch there are some great prizes available. Blue Lacuna is at 2150 South Canalport Avenue in Chicago and the event is on April 19 at 6pm. Grab your tickets early for this cool meet and greet.

Interiors marketplace eporta raises $8M, led by Canvas Ventures

In this day and age of higher expectation in offices, sourcing your furniture from Ikea no longer cuts the proverbial mustard. But the furniture industry is notoriously old fashioned, forcing buyers to leaf through hundreds of paper catalogues, most of which are outdated by the time you get around to ordering. The global design and furniture industry is worth $700 billion, and yet most of its processes for customers are stuck in a previous age. Wouldn’t it be better if someone digitised those manufacturer catalogues, and allowed you to order direct, cutting out the middle-men? This is what eporta is. This London-based B2B interior marketplace startup, has now raised $8 million in a series A funding round led by US investor Canvas Ventures. It also includes venture capitalists LocalGlobe, Oxford Capital Partners, Talis Capital, Samos Ventures, as well as angel investors Guy Hands, Ed Wray (co-founder, Betfair), Rohan Blacker (founder,
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The Morning Brew is a daily business briefing built for millennials

What’s the best way to stay up to date on things happening within your industry? Seasoned finance professionals read the Wall Street Journal. Anyone who wants to work in politics reads The Washington Post. In Silicon Valley we have industry-specific news sites like TechCrunch supplemented by Hacker News and others. But what about young business professionals who either don’t plan in staying in one industry their whole life or just want to stay up to date on the broader business/tech/startups/politics world? The Morning Brew is a daily newsletter designed for young business professionals. Each morning email has a stock market recap, a few short briefs on the most important business news of the day and a small section with lifestyle content. The result is the perfect mix of Wall Street essentials (like market analysis) and tech news (like a deep dive on Y Combinator). The newsletter, which now has just
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Elon Musk’s next Boring Co. merch will be big Lego bricks made from tunnel rock

Elon Musk’s The Boring Company is indeed living up to its namesake and boring tunnels, but its primary source of revenue still seems to be selling stuff branded with its logo. First there was the hat, then the ‘not a flamethrower,’ and now Musk has said that the company will produce and sell large, “lifesize” interlocking bricks created using rock collected while the company’s boring machines dig out tunnels under the earth. These will be “super strong,” but with their middles hollowed out to make them lighter and easier to actually move around and use. They’re “rated for California seismic loads,” too, according to Musk, which sounds like he thinks people could use these to actually build dwellings.

First up for sale will be a kit with an ancient

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Elon Musk’s Boring Co. flamethrower ships in time for summer BBQs

Elon Musk raised a significant chunk of money for his tunnel boring venture, the aptly named Boring Company, via sales of a heavily marked up ‘flamethrower’ with Boring Co. branding. Those pre-sales are all concluded, but now people who put down cash to reserve one are finding out when they can get their flame on. In an email to pre-order buyers, The Boring Company noted that the technically “not-a-flamethrower” production run should be wrapping up this spring, which means deliveries can be expected at least in time for “summer party” time. That’s good because people definitely need this fire generating device in time for the dry summer months, when forest fire risks are highest. Another tidbit from the note to buyers: Customers can expect terms and conditions to be signed off ahead of shipments, which should be heading out in the next couple of weeks according to the company. The
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