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The latest news on Startups from Business Insider

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    Alex Stephany JustPark

    The CEO of a London startup that allows people to rent out their driveways is leaving the business just two days after Business Insider reported it had axed a bunch of employees from its marketing team.

    JustPark CEO Alex Stephany, a well-known face in the London startup scene, is departing after three years in charge. He will be replaced by Anthony Eskinazi who founded the company in 2006.

    Stephany told Business Insider that it was "absolutely his decision" to leave, adding that he's looking to move to the US to gain experience at an American tech company.

    "I'll be making a rigorous search in the coming months with a view to finding a new challenge at a transformative tech business solving a big and complex problem," he said. "Since such a search will be very time-consuming it wouldn't have been fair on the team to have conducted it while still CEO of JustPark."

    Stephany will continue to advise the JustPark board.

    The company, one of the hottest startups in London according to Wired, said Eskinazi will now be tasked with overseeing the refocusing of the business around JustPark’s core pre-book parking service, which gives drivers instant access to a network of over 180,000 parking spaces across the UK.

    Layoffs

    JustPark currently employs 44 people, according to LinkedIn. But a source told Business Insider on Monday that around 20 people were being made redundant. Stephany denied the number was this high, claiming it was more like 10.

    Referring to the layoffs, JustPark today said it has "restructured the organisation to prepare the firm for the next phase of growth."

    Over the last few years, the company (formerly ParkatmyHouse.com) has received investment from multiple sources, including BMW i Ventures, a CrowdCube crowdfunding campaign and traditional venture capitalists like Index Ventures. Total funding in JustPark stands at more than $5.7 million (£3.75 million).

    JustPark's Alex and Anthony in car park

    While the idea has been well received, JustPark has been quiet on how much money it has been spending on marketing campaigns and hiring, raising suspicions that it could be spending more than it's taking.

    On Monday, Stephany said JustPark has revenues that are now "significantly into seven figures and more than doubling year-on-year."

    The company today admitted that it is not yet profitable — something it hopes to change in 2016. 

    Eskinazi said: "Alex has made an incredible contribution to the business. Under his 3 year leadership as CEO, Alex has helped to grow revenue 10-fold, raised investment from tier 1 venture capitalists, built a truly stellar team from scratch, and pulled off the largest equity crowdfunding for a startup in history. Alex will be able to offer invaluable ongoing support to JustPark in his capacity as a board advisor.

    He added: "I am very excited to be taking the helm at JustPark as the company gets ready for the next phase of growth. We believe we have all the right ingredients in place to continue our mission of taking the pain out of parking in cities for good and look forward to the challenge of making that vision a reality.

    Stephany maintained that JustPark has a "clear route to profitability" and a "very bright future ahead".

    "Anthony has unrivalled knowledge of parking technology, knows this business inside out, and will be a strong leader for the company moving forward," said Stephany. "I remain a huge JustPark fan and am looking forward to continuing to support the management team as a board advisor. I’ve enjoyed every minute of building a high-growth business at JustPark."

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Clever ways to reuse your old iPod


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    times100richest richard branson

    Taking shares in fast-growing companies is a pastime for many of the world's richest people, including the founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson.

    Wealthy individuals are constantly on the look out for the next big thing as they look to carry on building their already-impressive personal fortunes. 

    Branson's net worth of $4.9 billion (£3.2 billion) makes him one of the richest men on the planet.

    Here are the 18 technology companies that Branson is backing around the world, according to CrunchBase.

    The investments are listed in chronological order.

    $83.75 million (£55 million) in virtual medical care provider Doctor on Demand.

    Doctor On Demand claims to be the fastest and easiest way to see an urgent care doctor or psychologist on your computer, tablet, or phone. The company puts patients in front of psychologists, physicians, pediatricians, and lactation consultants for $40 (£26) upwards. The service is currently only available in the US. 

    Investments made: $62.75 million (£41.3 million) in July 2015 and $21 milion (£13.8 million) in August 2014. 



    $6.4 million (£4.2 million) in cloud computing firm Rescale.

    Rescale is a cloud simulation platform consisting of software and hardware that aims to help engineers and scientists build, compute, analyse, and scale simulations with high performance computing. The San Francisco company was founded in early 2011 by Joris Poort and Adam McKenzie. 

    Investment made: July 2015. 



    $30 million (£20 million) in travel booking software firm Zozi.

    Zozi's platform provides web-based bookings, payments and customer management software for tour, activity and event businesses. The company aims to help people discover and book thousands of activities and getaways, and get the gear they need. 

    Investment made: July 2015. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Square

    Square has set the price for its much anticipated initial public offering at $9 per share, and it could set a precedent for scores of other tech startups like it.

    The IPO is controversial for a couple of reasons, including the fact that $9 per share is below the $15.46-per-share price at which it sold stock in its most recent private funding round.

    That round valued the company at $6 billion. The new IPO price will give the company a market cap of $2.9 billion when it starts trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

    As Business Insider's Eugene Kim points out, Square's IPO pricing means the company has lost over half of its value in just a little over a year.

    Square had initially set a price range of $11 to $13.

    While it's not uncommon for tech startups to reach a $1 billion valuation — about 140 such "unicorn" companies exist right now — it is rare to see one go public at a lower valuation than it had in its last private funding round.

    Facebook shares went for $4.50 in its last private round before pricing at $38 per share in 2012. Twitter's last private round priced shares at $16 before that company went public at $26 per share.

    That means Square's IPO will be carefully watched on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley.

    If there's a successful pricing and first day of trading, more offerings could follow. But if there's a tough debut, other Silicon Valley unicorns might think again about going public.

    'The world won't implode'

    "If Square trades stably or continues to increase in value, I think what it'll do is it will provide some confidence to other unicorn companies that they can actually tap the public markets even at a price below what they might have last raised in the private market — and the world won't implode,"Phil Haslett of EquityZen, a marketplace for investors looking to buy shares from startup employees, told Business Insider.

    That's important because IPO activity has dropped off sharply this year.

    "If Square is a big success, there's not necessarily going to be a flood — but a big increase in companies tapping the public markets for further financing," Haslett said.

    DorseyPoint

    Of course, if things go poorly for the company, he said, "You're going to have about 130 really nervous CEOs and founders wondering what their exit strategy is in the near term if they can't continue to meet the goals of their aforementioned billion-dollar valuation."

    In Haslett's view, IPO prices shouldn't be taken too seriously. He said the IPO is really just a pricing mechanism, and we shouldn't overthink its significance.

    "In reality, if a public company drops 15% — that could happen on an earnings report, right? It would be a new headline for a day and then it would go away," he said. But, "when it's an IPO, it starts to attract a little more attention."

    Square is expected to begin trading on Thursday. We'll find out in the days and weeks to come whether it can weather the storm.

    SEE ALSO: Square's early investors made a killing ― here's a breakdown of who has made what so far

    SEE ALSO: Exploding startup valuations are changing how Wall Street banks work with tech companies

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Having blown it on Uber, investor Gary Vaynerchuk shares his lessons on how to spot the next "unicorn"


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    Mark ZuckerbergForbes has released its first ever list of the richest American entrepreneurs under 40 years old, and it's completely dominated by the tech industry in California. 

    Of the 40 entrepreneurs they looked at, a full 34 made their money in tech, with 33 living in California. They included those who were either born in the US or who built their companies here.

    When we narrowed the focus to only those who had made over $1 billion, the list dropped to 21, and every single one had made their fortune in tech.

    These mostly self-made billionaires include founders of some of the most iconic tech companies of the past few years, like Airbnb, Facebook, Twitter, and Uber. 

    Here are the 21 youngest billionaires in the country, who prove that tech is now ground zero for the American Dream.

    Additional reporting by Tess Danielson and Tanza Loudenback.

    21. Orion Hindawi

    Net Worth: $1 billion

    Age: 35

    Orion Hindawi made his fortune through the security startup Tanium, where he is CTO. Tanium was valued at $3.5 billion after raising $120 million in September. Hindawi works with his father, David, who was one of the founders of the startup, and the two previously worked together at David's last company, BigFix, which IBM bought for a reported $400 million in 2007.



    20. Evan Sharp

    Net Worth: $1.05 billion

    Age: 32

    Evan Sharp is a cofounder of Pinterest, which he helped start as a side project with friends while at architecture school back in 2009. What started as a fun project has now boomed into a site with 47.66 million unique monthly visitors in the US, and which is now valued at $11 billion.



    19. Brian Sheth

    Net Worth: $1.1 billion

    Age: 39

    Sheth is cofounder and president of Vista Equity, the technology-focused private equity firm founded in 2000. He is actively involved in his company’s investments and sits on 16 separate boards of businesses funded by Vista Equity. Sheth additionally serves as a director at Waterfall Mobile, MarVista Entertainment, and Global Wildlife Conservation.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    John Sculley

    Getting going in your early days as a tech startup is no mean feat so it helps when you've got a well-known figure among your cofounders.

    Misfit, a wearable technology company that makes activity tracking devices, was acquired by fashion retailer and watchmaker Fossil last week for $260 million (£171 million)

    Former Apple CEO John Sculley publicly backed the company since it first started.

    Sculley cofounded Misfit in San Francisco back in 2011 with Sonny Vu and Sridhar Iyengar. Now, one of the companys' executives says that Sculley was key to the company's growth.

    Speaking at the Apps World conference in London on Thursday, Misfit's director of special projects Nima Banai said that the powerful business leader opened multiple doors for Misfit that would have otherwise been firmly shut.

    "At the beginning, as a startup, it's really difficult to talk to these big brands unless you have someone like John Sculley behind you," Banai told an audience of mobile developers and entrepreneurs.

    Shine Misfit FitnessIn order for Misfit to get its relatively cheap wearable devices in the hands of as many people as possible, the company needed to team up with a number of large brands, including Coca-Cola, Speedo, Victoria Secret, and Swarovski.

    "Why would Coca-Cola talk to a startup in San Francisco, right? It's because of John Sculley, it's because of our connections."

    Banai added: "Sonny Vu is the CEO and John Sculley is sort of like an advisor."

    Sculley replaced Apple Cofounder Steve Jobs as CEO in 1983 and led the company up until 1993. He was also CEO and president of the Coca-Cola Corporation.

    Now he spends more of his time trying to find and support companies that could become the next Apple's of the world.

    Misfit's exit is likely to have been welcomed by Sculley and other investors in the company. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: An Iranian actress who posted Instagram photos of herself without a hijab was forced to flee the country


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    movable ink soireeWhen Movable Ink CEO Vivek Sharma first met his cofounder, he could go months without seeing another startup entrepreneur in New York City.

    “Doing a startup here was unusual,” he says. “Foursquare and Etsy did carry the torch a little.”

    Five years after Sharma started Movable Ink in 2010, he’s still a bit unusual, even though there’s a bumper crop of startup founders in New York. That’s because he has carefully built a profitable company, refusing to fall into the cycle of raising easy money and then torching it.

    Movable Ink, which creates emails that can be updated in real-time after they are sent, has been profitable since the first quarter of 2015, and boasts an annual run rate of $20 million, a 90% increase over last year. 

    Contrast this picture with the end of 2011, when Movable Ink was a team of just five people, and was generating $2,000 annually.

    Sharma credits Movable Ink’s five-year rise to profitability to a combination of prudent money management (the company has only raised $12.3 million total, which is relatively small compared to the hundreds of millions other startups have raised), and explosive growth led by a refocusing of the company in 2012.

    “At first we thought startups were going to be easy to sell to,” Sharma says. “But small companies weren't the best place to be. They were very fickle.” When starting out, companies often have the tendency to take the path that is easier, Sharma says, and Movable Ink’s team thought it would be faster to close deals with smaller companies.

    But it didn’t stick.

    OfficeCulture 3 Movable InkAt the end of 2011, with only a couple hundred dollars in revenue per month, Sharma told himself if things didn’t turn around in a few months, he would find himself a “real job.” It was the fourth startup Sharma had been a part of, and he didn’t want to see another one fail.

    Then Movable Ink struck a deal for a pilot program with EA for $6,000, and then a $72,000 deal with DirecTV. “We decided not to waste time with the smaller companies,” he says.

    “We felt something change in the business," he recalls. "It was like something was dragging it forward. We had $12,000 in revenue one year and $860,000 the next.” If you are selling in the wrong market, it can lead to disaster, Sharma says. Movable Ink just needed to find the right fit for its email marketing product.

    But even with this explosive growth, Sharma was careful about how he spent money, and especially how he hired.“It’s easy to get into a trap when you've raised a lot of capital and are hiring people too quickly. At some point, you are just looking for bodies.”

    Vivek Sharma and Michael NuttOne of the reasons Movable Ink was able to find success with big companies was because, in Sharma’s words, most email marketing departments function like they’re in the 50s.

    “There’s lots of planning that can take you months.” Movable Ink is different. It creates a dynamic way for companies to fill their emails with content that changes depending on context.

    And right now, Sharma’s goal is to bring that to more and more customers. Movable Ink has added over 90 new clients in the first three quarters of 2015 (bringing the total to over 300 enterprise clients).

    But Sharma says he's still completely focused on email, which he thinks has staying power, even as tools like Slack gain popularity.

    “Email isn’t owned by anyone, like Facebook or Twitter," he says. "Anyone can build a product.”

    SEE ALSO: Tech investors are betting $4 million that a funky ice-cream shop in Brooklyn can spread across the US

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Meet the the founder of a hot fintech startup that an old-line insurance company paid $250 million to buy


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    MEC innovation director Hannah Blake

    A director at one of the world's biggest media agencies has been announced as the leader of a new innovation division that will aim to get companies like Transport for London and Netflix to engage with startups more effectively.

    Hannah Blake, a 26-year-old open innovation director at WPP-owned MEC UK, will head up the new "MEC Tonic" group, the company announced on its website this week.

    MEC Tonic will aim to pair up brands like B&Q, Danone, Compare the Market and Renault, with adtech (advertising technology) and media tech startups.

    MEC helps large brands with their media buying and media planning but as the media landscape has become more complex it has diversified its capabilities. Today, the London-headquartered company boasts annual turnovers of £850 million and approximately 5,000 employees worldwide.

    Blake believes that many of today's biggest brands are failing to tap into what startups have to offer.

    "There is a growing ecosystem of support and mentoring for startups but very little exists to educate and challenge established companies on working with emerging technology," said Blake, who previously helped BBC Worldwide to engage with young digital companies through the BBC "Labs" startup programme. "Brands need to work faster, take risks, allocate budget and dedicate resource if they want to deliver innovation successfully."

    MEC hopes that MEC Tonic will help brands transform their marketing operations by getting them to "use emerging technology at the points in the customer journey that have the biggest impact on purchase decisions."

    The new division is already working with a portfolio of UK startups including Seenit, an app that allows users to launch video-filming campaigns, and Rezonence, which has an advertising platform that asks online media consumers to unlock the content they intend to read by interacting with an ad, for example, by answering a simple question based on the content of the ads. Blake knows both of these startups from her days at BBC Labs.

    MEC joint-CEO Jason Dormieux said: "Technology continues to disrupt client marketing strategies. For brands to be on the front foot we need to take innovation via new companies and business models seriously. We’re excited by MEC Tonic’s new approach to delivering growth for our clients and our industry."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Rough Draft Ventures Peter Boyce

    Startups founded by college students that turned into billion dollar companies is the tech industry's dream. Think Dell, Google, Facebook ... 

    Venture capitalists would like to prowl college campuses to find the projects that could be the next hit.

    Unfortunately, given how many aspiring entrepreneurs there are at so many colleges, that's pretty hard for them to do.

    Enter Peter Boyce, a 25-year-old founder of a new kind of VC, Rough Draft Ventures.

    Boyce started Rough Draft his senior year at Harvard (he graduated in 2013). It's backed by one of the Boston area's powerhouse VCs, General Catalyst Partners, and he's officially part of the General Catalyst team, too, Boyce tells Business Insider.

    College kids can pitch their startup ideas to the Rough Draft team composed of fellow students, who volunteer to vet the pitches and award funding. 

    Rough Draft VenturesThey dish out small sums, up to $25,000, to help cover costs a poor student or their families can't.

    "Not everyone has a rich uncle," Boyce jokes. 

    For instance, students might use it to buy a new computer, to hire a contract designer, to cover business travel expenses.

    The idea is to help college kids "go from idea to products to seed and series A that are real ventures."

    "We do uncapped convertible notes, up to $25,000. This is most lightweight way to do it," Boyce says, referring to a type of investment that doesn't stipulate ownership of a percentage of the company at a particular valuation. Those terms get worked out at a later round of funding.

    What it isn't? A financing round that will get a young founder all stressed out.

    "It's not a crazy priced round and it's not a commitment to drop out of school," he says, referring to the pressure student founders often feel to work full time on the company once a VC funds them.

    Rough Draft Ventures teamOften students use it to help them get their idea far enough along to get into an accelerator like Y Combinator, Boyce says. 

    Rough Draft originally focused just on colleges in Boston, but Boyce has recently expanded to New York and now spends his time flying between the two cities, hearing pitches.

    So far, Rough Draft has "backed over 50 teams, who have gone on to over $130 million of follow-on capital," Boyce says.

    Some of the most successful ones include Beepi, an online marketplace for used cars. It's raised almost $79 million

    Then there's WorkFlow, the super popular iOS app. And Grove, hardware for growing veggies in your home designed by MIT students that raised over $300,000 on Kickstarter in a couple of days.

    Boyce says he can't think of a more rewarding career than helping young entrepreneurs with their dreams.

    "This is what I was put here to do, meeting smart people and finding ways to help them," he tells us.

    "My mom is a horseback riding instructor. She never rode professionally herself, but she coaches some of the best in the world," Boyce says. "That's what I can do with founders, coach them." 

    SEE ALSO: Some tech workers over 50 are literally working themselves to death — and other things we discovered about their careers

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Cockroach

    While more than 140 startups are running around Silicon Valley as a unicorn, one founder just wants people to stop calling his company a cockroach. 

    Unicorn has become the Silicon Valley default for a startup valued at more than a billion dollars. Once mythical, but now a popular milestone for startups, the "unicorns" of Silicon Valley are companies like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb. 

    On the opposite side of the spectrum are the less glitzy, but nonetheless profit-driven "cockroaches," wrote David Barrett, the founder of Expensify, in a funny post on his company's blog.

    The lean, "cockroach" startups are low-burn, but efficient growth companies, Barrett says.

    He points to a Paul Graham essay from 2007, which may have coined the term: "Apparently the most likely animals to be left alive after a nuclear war are cockroaches, because they’re so hard to kill. That’s what you want to be as a startup, initially. Instead of a beautiful but fragile flower that needs to have its stem in a plastic tube to support itself, better to be small, ugly, and indestructible."

    500 Startups founder, Dave McClure, resurfaced the term in a 2013 Wired article on being a lean "cockroach" startup. (McClure is also attributable for many of Silicon Valley's ridiculous lingo, including the stable of horse-related valuation names like centaur or ponies.)

    But, Barrett seems to want to take a page out of McClure's book and come up with a new, more flattering term for a company that prioritizes low-burn. 

    "Those of us committed to growth AND profit need to band together to come up with a stronger brand than the one that’s creeping into the mainstream consciousness,"Barrett writes.

    His suggestions range from a Redwood that grows through all weathers to Kudzu vines, which invade everywhere.

    On Twitter, tech founders are chiming in with their own nicknames too:

    SEE ALSO: Silicon Valley lingo is getting pretty ridiculous: Unicorns, centaurs, and ponies

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Having blown it on Uber, investor Gary Vaynerchuk shares his lessons on how to spot the next "unicorn"


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    new yorkNew York’s startup scene has grown over the past few years, but it’s still a much different experience building a company in NYC than in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Movable Ink CEO Vivek Sharma describes it like this:

    “If the Bay Area is the PhD program, New York is still in high school. We have a lot to learn. And there are things that that make New York different. Things you start to feel as a company scales.”

    Sharma built his "dynamic email" startup in New York, turning it into a profitable company in just 5 years (now with an office in the Bay Area). 

    And while the challenges of creating a company away from the center of tech power are fairly obvious, there are also benefits that might surprise you, he says.

    Sharma points to one main factor, in particular, where New York can be much better for startups: employee loyalty. “When I worked in the Bay Area, everyone was mercenary. Some people come in there and didn't care about software, they just wanted to strike it rich.”

    And Sharma says the same thing is happening today.

    “If you are constantly thinking about needing foosball tables and a private mixologist, it can be very detrimental to that ecosystem,” he says. “Google, Facebook, Airbnb — they pay small fortunes to people.” Sharma says it can be hard to keep people.

    New York is different.

    Sharma says he finds that the really talented people in New York are often more committed. They’ve already made the choice to stay in New York, to try and build something meaningful in a particular ecosystem. Perhaps this is what makes them more likely to make the same commitment to a specific company.

    SEE ALSO: This is the magic number of employees when a startup CEO's role starts changing big time

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Google's self-driving car has a huge problem


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    Line of Unicorns

    Are technology’s “unicorn” startups dangerously overvalued or not?

    Both tech evangelists and critics have strong positions on either side of the argument: on the one hand, it’s now easier than ever to reach billions of people over the internet; on the other, many of the wildly-popular new companies are yet to demonstrate a serious business model.

    Whichever side of the fence you’re sitting on, you would find something to support your position if you followed the rollercoaster that was last week’s initial public offering of Square, the payments technology company started by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.

    Square was founded in 2010 as a way for businesses in America to easily accept credit cards by turning a smartphone or tablet into a fully-fledged point-of-sale system. The service took off, and as Square introduced new services such as the ability to send money back and forth over iPhones, it attracted a huge amount of investment.

    In 2012 Square’s fourth round of financing valued it at $3.25bn (£2.1bn), and two years later, a fifth round, or a “Series E” in venture capital parlance, was predicated on a $6bn valuation. So far, so good; that is, until a couple of weeks ago, when Square filed its S-1 document, the pre-requisite for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.

    The S-1 revealed two things: firstly, that Square was planning to float at $11 to $13 a share, a significant discount to the $15.46 from the Series E round 13 months earlier. Secondly, investors in the Series E had negotiated an insurance policy known as a “ratchet”. This means that if Square floated at less than $18.56, late-stage investors such as JP Morgan would be given new shares to make up the difference. Essentially, they were guaranteed a return of at least 20pc on their initial investment, even at $11-$13, a price significantly below that they invested in.

    Ratchets and other sophisticated insurance measures have become controversial as they get more common when startups raise money, but more on that later.

    Last week, Square wrapped up its investor roadshow and sold shares, as planned, on the stock exchange. Except it didn’t go at its initial price range, it went for even less - $9 a share – with the company apparently unable to achieve even the $11 bottom of its previous target. When Square announced this, the night before it actually floated, many commentators saw it as the end of the gold rush for tech startups. $9 valued Square at $2.9bn – half the valuation of its Series E financing a year earlier – suggesting the good times were well behind us. Score one for the prophets of doom.

    But on Thursday, the narrative switched again. Shares in Square opened up at $11.20, up 24pc, and ended the day up 45pc at $13.07, above even the top end of the company’s original range. Confused? You should be. We’d gone from the tech bubble bursting to a wave of optimism in the space of a day.

    Despite the surge in Square’s shares on its first day, it still didn’t follow the traditional tech IPO narrative, which is to float at a valuation well above the final private financing round. Facebook may have raised eyebrows in 2011 when a Goldman Sachs-led financing valued it at $50bn, but its IPO the year after was at twice that. Twitter’s final private fundraising valued it at $9.3bn, much less than its $14.2bn IPO in 2013.

    Jack Dorsey

    Is the fact that Square floated for less than its Series E valuation a sign that appetite for technology companies is waning? That doesn’t seem realistic – Facebook, Amazon and Google’s parent company Alphabet are at all-time highs. And private companies continue to muster ever-growing valuations – Uber is reportedly raising money at $70bn, for example.

    To explain what’s going on, we have to return to the ratchet that Square’s investors secured in its Series E funding round. That fundraising was based on a $6bn valuation, but was only completed on the basis that investors were guaranteed a return: if, as it eventually turned out, Square listed at less than $6bn, the late-stage investors got a bigger piece of the pie.

    Essentially, Square’s $6bn valuation was illusory, predicated on an investment that could only fail if the company folded completely. On a technical level, it was completely different to a normal, public, share purchase. If investors really believed Square was worth $6bn, the company would presumably not have had to offer a ratchet to get the deal across the line.

    Square is not unique in this. Although details are kept private, many late-stage investments have carried similar safety nets, jacking up valuations that are above and beyond what a company could expect to be worth on the stock exchange. When a company eventually does list, as with Square, it may do so below its private valuation, but this is more of a reflection that its value was illusory in the first place, rather than because its star is waning.

    The question now is whether this actually matters. Square still managed to float, and raise plenty of money. The late-stage investors, of course, got a return because their ratchets kicked in.

    Any grumbles will have come from employees, who will have been paid in share options based on the inflated $6bn valuation, and thus will be sitting on a paper loss; and earlier shareholders, who saw their holdings diluted when the ratchet forced new shares to be issued to late-stage investors.

    If technology’s billion-dollar startups continue to follow in Square’s footsteps, investors and employees are likely to get fed up, and demand an end to phony valuations. Until then, it is best to take a company’s unicorn status with more than a pinch of salt.

    SEE ALSO: The biggest one-day pops in recent tech IPOs

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The full story of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is much more awesome than you realize


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    Little Riot Joanna Montgommery

    Startups at Telefónica's startup nursery in London have raised $34.1 million (£22.4 million) so far this year, Wayra told Business Insider today. That's more than 50% of the total amount raised by all the startups that have enrolled in Wayra's company building programme over the last three years.

    But startups at some of the other London startup hubs appear to be raising more. For example, startups at Google Campus raised £34 million in 2013. It's worth noting that Campus contained more than one accelerator programme at the time, with Seedcamp and Springboard being the most notable. 

    Total investment in Wayra UK companies now stands at $61 million (£40.1 million).

    Startups in Wayra, situated just off Tottenham Court Road in Central London, have also secured $5.1 million (£3.4 million) through contracts with Telefónica.

    In return for an equity stake, Wayra gives startups up to $50,000 (£33,000), a place to work, mentors, business partners, access to its network, and the opportunity to reach Telefónica customers.

    Startups currently in the Wayra programme include the likes of invoice app Albert and Scottish startup Little Riot, which is currently trying to raise capital on Kickstarter for its device that allows couples in long distance to relationships to hear their partner's heartbeat as they fall asleep.

    Gary Stewart, director of Wayra UK & Wayra UnLtd, said: "Corporates that want to avoid being disrupted are eagerly seeking new innovation models. Telefónica was at the forefront of this movement, and it's great to see that the results are now beginning to speak for themselves.

    "What’s even more pleasing is that this isn’t restricted to any one country. Qudini, for example, came through Wayra UK and has now been selected as our preferred queue management solution in stores across 17 countries."

    Wayra UK’s demoDay will be held at the startup academy on Wednesday. Following the event, Wayra will accept 19 new companies into its cohort.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    linda avey 23andme co-founder ccbysa2

    Linda Avey, cofounder of the personal genomics company 23andMe, recently took the stage at Fusion's Real Future Fair to talk about the future of the biotech industry.

    After the panel, Tech Insider asked Avey whether she had any advice for Theranos — a blood-analysis startup valued at $10 billion — on how it could rebound from a highly public snafu over its secret technology, just as 23andMe once did.

    "Show the data," said Avey, CEO and cofounder of the health-tracking startup Curious. "Put the data out there. Be transparent. There's no getting around that in the industry."

    Theranos promised to change the field of medicine by simplifying blood tests and equipping patients with easy, almost real-time access to their results. But the company, which closely guards data about its unique tests, came under fire last month after an investigative report by The Wall Street Journal.

    Instead of using the much touted yet secret blood-testing methods, according to The Journal, Theranos used traditional machines for roughly 90% of customer tests at the end of 2014. The US Food and Drug Administration has since stepped in to scale back the use of Theranos' proprietary technologies.

    Many have called on Theranos to release data on how its blood analysis works. CEO Elizabeth Holmes announced in late October — in a reversal of her previous stance — that the company would subject itself to peer review.

    The scenario is more than a little familiar to the cofounders of 23andMe, including CEO Anne Wojcicki. In 2013, the FDA sent the company a strongly worded warning letter, effectively shutting down the health-related aspects of its popular DNA reports.

    An FDA deputy commissioner wrote at the time, "We still do not have any assurance that the firm has analytically or clinically validated the [Personal Genome Service] for its intended uses."

    Yet 23andMe made a comeback​ in October of this year by unveiling a new testing experience, though one significantly more regulated and limited.

    23andMe's new DNA report offers 60 pieces of information, including details about a customer's carrier status for certain diseases, a profile of some hereditary traits, and some information about dozens of non-life-threatening health conditions like lactose intolerance. It also dials back on genetic risk assessments for complex, serious diseases like breast cancer and diabetes.

    Avey left 23andMe in 2009, well before the company ran into trouble with the FDA. Still, it's not difficult for a biotech-industry veteran to imagine the scenario facing Theranos.

    "You have to be willing to show what you're doing," Avey tells Tech Insider. "The proof is in the data."

    When asked for comment, Theranos referred Tech Insider to an interview Holmes gave Fortune last week:

    "We have not put into the public domain much of our technology and operations, historically," Holmes said at the Fortune Global Forum. "But there is no reason we can't do peer review, and there is no reason we can't publish other stats, and we're going to do that," she later added.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    blades

    Dollar Shave Club has raised another $15 million, bringing its latest round of fundraising to almost $91 million, according to an SEC filing posted on Friday.

    The Series D round was reportedly closed in June, when the startup that sells men's shaving kits raised $75 million, led by Technology Crossover Ventures. Friday's filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission shows that the startup has brought in an additional $15 million with another $10 million worth of shares still up for grabs.

    The filing says that a total of 22 investors are participating in the latest fundraising round.

    According to PitchBook, the additional funding raises the valuation of Dollar Shave Club to $630 million.

    The Los Angeles-based company launched in 2011 with an idea to steal market share from razor powerhouse Gillette. CEO Michael Dubin promised a better price point: for $1 a month, Dollar Shave Club sends you high-quality razor blades. He created a crude and goofy viral video to support the launch, which garnered 19 million views.

    In 2014, the startup says it generated $65 million, triple that of its 2013 revenue, with 2 million monthly and bimonthly subscribers. Dollar Shave Club did not return a request for comment.

    SEE ALSO: Expensify founder: Please don't call us 'cockroaches'

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    Will Shu Deliveroo resized

    London startup Deliveroo announced today that it has raised $100 million (£66 million) for its restaurant food delivery service, bringing total investment in the company to approximately $200 million (£132 million).

    The Series D investment round was led by DST Global and Greenoaks Capital with participation from existing investors Accel, Hummingbird Ventures and Index Ventures.

    Unlike the majority of food delivery businesses that are purely online marketplaces for takeaway restaurants, Deliveroo, founded by former investment banker Will Shu and CTO Greg Orlowski in 2013, aims to partner with premium restaurants that don’t typically provide delivery. The startup has partnered with over 5,000 restaurants worldwide, including the likes of Dishoom, Ping Pong and Dirty Burger, and Michelin-starred Trishna in London.

    Deliveroo is currently available in 30 UK cities and 20 other international cities, with most of those in Europe. Today the startup makes its first foray into Australasia, launching in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne, and Sydney.

    Shu, who still carries out Deliveroo's sub-30 minute deliveries, told Business Insider that Deliveroo has received similar traction in every market it has entered. "I think we’re creating a new market for restaurants, drivers, and customers," he told Business Insider over the phone ahead of the funding announcement. "Fundamentally this is something people really, really want in the developed world."

    The latest investment means that Deliveroo is likely to have a valuation in excess of $1 billion (£660 million), making it the UK's next unicorn company and putting it alongside the likes of Shazam, FanDuel, and Transferwise. Deliveroo was unable to confirm its valuation with Business Insider.

    Deliveroo bike

    When asked if Deliveroo was profitable, Shu said: "I can't really disclose anything about our financials."

    Deliveroo now employs 300 people, with approximately half of those in the UK. Other employees can be found in Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt, and Berlin, as well as the five new non-European cities the startup has launched in today.

    The idea for Deliveroo came about after Shu transferred from Morgan Stanley's office in New York to the investment bank's Canary Wharf office. Upon arriving in London, Shu said he quickly realised that there wasn't much on offer in the way of restaurant deliveries compared to New York. A few years after arriving in London, online delivery services started to become popular but Shu said the quality of the food being delivered was often relatively poor, adding that it would take too long to arrive.

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    Sequoia Capital chairman Michael Moritz

    Sir Michael Moritz, chairman of one of the biggest and best-known venture capital companies in the world, believes that the West is underestimating the size and scale of Chinese technology companies.

    The Cardiff-born Sequoia Capital chairman reminded Business Insider yesterday at the launch of Skyscanner's new London office that seven of the world's 21 largest technology companies are Chinese, pointing to firms such as Huawei, Alibaba, and Tencent.

    "People underestimate China, especially in Europe," said the Oxford graduate who now lives in San Francisco. "They have very little sense of the size, strength, and scale of ambition of the leading Chinese technology companies.

    "It takes a long time for perception to catch up with reality so most people’s perception of China is 20 years behind the times."

    Founded in 1972, Sequoia has backed startups that now command $1.4 trillion (£930 billion) of combined stock market value, equivalent to 22% of Nasdaq, according to a Forbes article from last year.

    Sequoia, based on Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto, California, has built up its reputation after investing in many of America's hugely successful technology companies when they were young, including Google, Apple, Facebook, and Yahoo.

    But now it seems to be broadening its horizons, with over 50% of its money now being spent outside the US, according to Moritz.

    Mortiz said a "large market, a large supply of extremely talented people and great ambition" are the main reasons why Chinese technology companies are scaling into mega corporations with huge revenues and profits.

    Skyscanner

    Skyscanner CEO

    One of Sequoia's non-US investments is Scottish startup Skyscanner — a platform that allows people to find and book flights, hotels and cars. Interestingly, Skyscanner has a significant presence in China.

    Skyscanner employees over 800 people worldwide, with 45 staff spread between Shenzhen and Beijing in China, where it has chanced its name to "Tianxun".

    "There are not too many UK technology companies doing business in China: Skyscanner is one of them," said Moritz, who came top of the Midas list, a ranking of the world's best investors in 2007 following his investment in Google.

    Skyscanner CTO Alistair Hann said: "We believe that to have the best travel site for Chinese customers, we need to ensure we are developing the product within China by experienced travel tech specialists who understand the needs of the Chinese travellers. We have two offices in the country.

    "Our product is tailored to Chinese needs; as an example, in-app payment is the norm in China, thus we accept payment through Alipay there. We're still growing at a huge rate in China. Between 2013 and 2015 our visitors in China grew by 207% and our mobile visitors grew by 397%

    While Skyscanner already has two offices in China, it has only just got round to opening an office in London, where it hopes to tap into the city's well-established tech network and employ up to 28 people in predominantly engineering roles.

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    Keith Rabois

    For startups, it's getting tougher to raise money in Silicon Valley right now, according to Keith Rabois, a Khosla Ventures partner and former executive at LinkedIn, PayPal, and Square.

    The investor went on a tweetstorm on Tuesday morning in response to a story from The Information's Amir Efrati and Peter Schulz, which says top VC firms are spending less investing in early-stage startups than before.

    "Why surprising? This has been going on for 3-6 months very acutely," Rabois said in response to a tweet from writer Amir Efrati, who tweeted that he was surprised by the findings in his report. 

    Both Rabois' tweetstorm and The Information's report build on a growing narrative that winter is coming to Silicon Valley.

    Investors are worried that these companies have been subsidized by easy VC money for too long.  In many cases, their customer and usage numbers are going up because they're using VC money to expand into new cities, but customer-acquisition costs remain high and many of them are bleeding money. Worse, mature markets like San Francisco and New York are starting to see some scary, weak customer-adoption numbers, which bodes poorly for these companies as they expand into other regions.

    The public markets are more harsh than private markets. This means private investors need to reset their expectations, which leads to downward valuation pressure. Recently, Fidelity marked down its investments in both Snapchat and Dropbox, two private tech companies valued over $1 billion.

    Most of Rabois' tweetstorm is below:

     

     

     

     

     

    SEE ALSO: Silicon Valley's denial is over: Everybody thinks we're in a bubble

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    Apple Faceshift

    Apple has acquired a Swiss real-time motion capture startup called Faceshift for an unknown amount, according to TechCrunch.

    The company's virtual reality technology can be used to generate animated avatars and other computer generated figures that capture a person’s facial expressions in real time.

    There were reports out earlier this year that Apple had already acquired Faceshift but these were unconfirmed.

    TechCrunch, however, claims to have multiple sources and conclusive links between the companies.

    When TechCrunch put the acquisition claim to Apple, the Cupertino firm said: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." Apple has used this response in the past to comment on acquisitions.

    A number of Faceshift employees now work for Apple outside Europe, according to TechCrunch.

    It's currently unclear how Apple will use Faceshift but the company's technology is already being used in a number of areas.

    For example, Faceshift allows gamers to control their on-screen avatars by pulling faces in real life. It also allows the movie industry to create avatars that mimic actor's facial expressions more closely.

    Faceshift was used in the latest Star Wars film (see 0:41 of this YouTube video) to make non-human characters appear more real by improving their facial expressions.

    Faceshift Apple Star Wars

    It's possible that Faceshift's technology could also be used to verify a person's identity but it's understood that this is not something the company has focused on yet.

    The company was founded in Zurich, Switzerland, by academics Thibaut Weise, Brian Amberg and Sofien Bouaziz. Today the company also has offices in San Francisco and London. TechCrunch highlights that the London office is led by Nico Scapel, a visual effects expert with an impressive list of film credits.

    Apple has already acquired several other companies focusing on augmented reality, motion pictures and facial recognition. In Europe, for example, it's acquired PrimeSense, Polar Rose, and Metaio. Faceshift could help Apple to further progress its efforts in these areas.

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    Tim_Draper

    Tim Draper, one of the world's most prominent venture capital investors, has launched a new investment company in London.

    In 1985, Draper founded the firm that would become Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), which has invested in companies like Skype, Twitter, Tesla, and Box.

    The new "Draper Oakwood" fund will lead "royalty round" investments in predominantly UK and European growth companies in exchange for a share in future revenues.

    Draper Oakwood said the "R-Round" investments won't require entrepreneurs to give up any equity or control in their business.

    "We believe that many great companies will be well suited to utilise a non-debt, non-equity financial vehicle," said Draper in a statement that was shared with the media. "Draper Oakwood is breaking new ground, and we believe the economy will benefit from better liquidity and this alternative access to capital."

    Although Draper has his name behind the company, he will not be the one leading it. That duty will fall to founder and CEO Aamer Sarfraz.

    "Our principles are straightforward — provide capital which is entrepreneur-friendly, don't interfere in running other people's business, and don't dilute existing shareholders and management teams," said Sarfraz. "The UK needs more innovative sources of capital, beyond just old-fashioned equity and debt."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Lloyd Blankfein

    Goldman Sachs has been dialing up its presence in the startup investing space over the last several years.

    The bank invests directly in deals and also wields a network of high-net-worth clients who are eager to back hot startups. 

    Some of these investments are about gaining access to technology that Goldman might use in its own business — like Kensho, which creates analytics platforms that could help answer complex financial questions.

    Others — like stakes in Facebook ahead of its IPO and Uber — have paid off twice: first as investments, and second when the investment bank landed big roles advising company deals.

    Goldman, for example, was an investor in Square in 2012 and 2014, and also the lead underwriter of its initial public offering last week. JPMorgan, another Square underwriter, was also an investor in the company.

    Goldman has made over 300 such investments, according to data from CrunchBase.

    They include deals led by the tech investment banking group, an investment team housed in the securities division that puts money into trading technology company, and units housed in the investing and lending division. 

    Here's some of the investment bank's most notable deals, including exits:

    Goldman's 2011 investment in Facebook preceded a big wave of startup deals for the bank.

    In 2011, after Goldman Sachs invested in Facebook at a $50 billion valuation, it was presumed that the investment would help the bank land Mark Zuckerberg's business when time came for an IPO. But Goldman "came in third" on the IPO. Still, the bank and its clients made a tidy profit on the social network.



    Goldman has piled cash into Spotify.

    Spotify has been sending its valuation skyward — Daniel Ek's startup's most recent round was for a valuation north of $8 billion — and Goldman Sachs has helped out as an investor in 2012 and as an adviser earlier this year.



    Goldman recently led a round for Shift, which is disrupting the clunky online auto-sales marketplace.

    Lately, plenty of capital has been flowing into the online auto-sales arena for several reasons. One reason is that the space is ripe for disruption, in part owed to the difficulty of getting all the way through a car purchase.

    But a key opportunity for banks is to help the online players build financing out that flows through the lenders themselves. Goldman led a $50 million investment in Shift last month to help the startup compete against a growing field of online players.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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