Friday, September 29, 2023
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Startups: Be cautious about your customers.

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As a photographer, the story of Amazon purchasing Digital Photo Review (referred to as DPReview among friends), systematically destroying it, abruptly declaring the site would be shutting down, and then saying “j/k, we’re selling it after all” has given me a lot to think about.

I’m not sure if Amazon was ever an ideal location for DPReview to settle, but you do periodically see businesses that end up getting acquired in ways that seem a little strange.

IMDb and Goodreads are two more well-known trademarks that seem to be an odd fit with where Amazon is these days. Amazon throwing the name out makes me worry what will happen with those two brands.

The lesson here, in my opinion, is that you need to find an acquirer who shares your mission and is willing to invest in the long-term success of your company.

Otherwise, prepare for a whole lot of frustration. Find out if the acquirer has a budget and is prepared to continue investing in your business if you have plans to continue building and developing what you started. If you’re ready to walk away and call it a day, it might be okay.

This week, I’ve also given a lot of thought to intellectual property. I began a fresh TC+ series on intellectual property (IP), beginning with strategy. Over the coming months, stay tuned for a ton more!

Hardware industry hardships

A cherished bicycle manufacturer, VanMoof, filed for bankruptcy protection this week. The interesting oddity in this situation is that you can use your phone to unlock and track the bikes.

What happens to the app if the company shuts down? Strangely, one of the bike company’s rivals stepped in to save the day by creating an app that allowed VanMoof owners to continue unlocking and riding their bikes.

The VanMoof challenge advances the discussion about what happens to technology that can be controlled by software when the firms who make it suffer a setback.

Even though we all love open source, the learning curve to download, compile, and load an app onto your phone is well beyond the reasonable skill level of the average consumer, including the typical VanMoof owner.

When my own company, Triggertrap, went out of business, we decided to open source the apps. However, this is also a mediocre solution.

In relation to bicycles, our transportation experts looked into the top electric bikes for every sort of rider in 2023, as well as…what is responsible for e-bike battery fires.

That certainly sounds uncomfortable, so I looked into Proclaim, a firm that garnered $15 million so that people could pressure-wash their mouths.

You spin me around like a top, baby: Are you really a music aficionado, Brian wonders, if you don’t purchase Jony Ive’s $60,000 turntable?

Yes, that does appear to be a realistic method of reading a newspaper: A 32-inch, $3,000 e-ink display that projects newspaper front pages onto your wall is examined by Brian.

Developing batteries: I looked at the search for solid-state EV batteries (TC+) and the firms developing related technology.

Putting enjoyment into money

On TC+, Alex makes the claim that, as the value of startup exits plummets, a lack of liquidity may be hurting VCs’ ability to raise money.

Tom Okman, co-CEO and co-founder of Nord Security, offers some excellent bootstrapping tips in his post You don’t need VC to produce a consumer tech product, if you’re a company wondering whether you should avoid venture capital completely.

I was happy to learn that Ryan Petersen, the former CEO of Flexport who was succeeded by Amazon veteran Dave Clark, had found a new position as a partner at Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund.

Another intriguing development is that funds that had previously focused on SaaS are now paying much closer attention to AI. Sapphire Ventures expects to invest over $1 billion in enterprise AI startups, while Notion Capital has raised €300 million for its sixth fund.

It’s been a turbulent year, so reading Karan’s article on TC+, in which 15 investors reveal the biggest surprises of 2023 so far, was fascinating.

Using the brakes has repercussions: The team cautions entrepreneurs that slowing growth may make them less fundable this week on Equity.

For TC+, I spoke with a VC business that uses personality assessments and AI to identify potential investments.

the moon? At least to da cloud, though: According to Alex, a decline in U.S. inflation has a minor positive impact on tech values (TC+).

So, how is the state of the startup industry?

Suwannar Kawila, EyeEm, and Getty Images contributed to this picture.

We ought to all be riding a wave of opportunity right now if it’s true that huge volatility leads to great opportunities.

Looking at the 2023 tech layoffs, a pattern is starting to emerge: The worst might already be behind us, it seems. Still, things are shaky, and even while the overall number of layoffs in the computer industry is falling, the situation is interestingly changing (TC+): fewer tech workers are being fired, but more businesses are doing it. In other words, more businesses are making smaller cuts.

AI is still expanding and thriving, but many businesses have had to raise less money to stay in operation.

PharmEasy, a startup Indian online pharmacy, is one of them and is apparently planning to raise new capital at a 90% discount from its previous valuation.

Celsius Network is facing controversy in the world of cryptocurrencies. The SEC, CFTC, and FTC are suing the firm, which was previously valued at over $3 billion, reportedly for engaging in a plan to deceive its customers.

Reordering the narrative: Most likely, you’ve come across my Pitch Deck Teardown series, in which I analyze effective pitch decks and reveal the good, the bad, and the absurdly terrible. I reconfigured the entire deck for Nokod Security’s $8 million seed deck (TC+) because I was so perplexed by the story. Check it out; it’s probably one of my better teardowns.

Profiting while doing good: Becca writes on Deal Dive that despite the market being more challenging than in the past, there is still investor interest in triple-bottom-line companies.

A unicorn’s horn emerged from this aquaculture: According to Catherine, the Indonesian aquaculture firm eFishery received $200 million in funding at a valuation of more than $1 billion.

If you ask me, the headline is a little bit of a hard cell: I covered Sourcetable’s $3 million investment round because the business insists that spreadsheets are the future of computing.

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Startups, be careful who you sell to, first written by Haje Jan Kamps on TechCrunch

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