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Entrepreneurs: It’s time to put corporate VCs back on your short list

Gil Beyda Contributor Gil Beyda is a partner at Comcast Ventures . The startup media is awash with stories of corporate venture capital prioritizing their own interests over those of their portfolio. While acknowledging that some of these stories may have a basis in truth, it’s critical to recognize there is much more to the story . It’s time the whole story is told. The truth is that not all corporate venture capital firms are the same. And in fact, some have a strategic advantage because they have access to proprietary insights from dozens of markets and technologies that are simply unavailable to other venture capital firms. Further, corporate venture capital firms can create synergies between portfolio companies and their parent companies to help accelerate business, an opportunity unavailable to most venture capital firms. Choosing between strategically focused and financially focused corporate venture capital There are two types of corporate venture capital, and it’s essential to understand the difference between them. The first type, strategically focused corporate venture capital , provides significant benefits to all parties if done well. These firms can help accelerate portfolio companies with revenue, market/customer insights and technology/roadmap development. The second type is financially focused corporate venture capital . These firms are run like typical venture firms and are primarily driven to maximize financial returns, and the firm’s partners are rewarded for making profitable investments

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Solving the mystery of sleep

Alice Lloyd George Contributor Alice Lloyd George is an investor at RRE Ventures and the host of Flux , a series of podcast conversations with leaders in frontier technology. More posts by this contributor A conversation with Dean Kamen on the myth of “Eureka!” Using drones to build the ambulance fleet of the future Below are excerpts from the most recent episode of the Flux podcast hosted by RRE Ventures principal Alice Lloyd George.  AMLG: Welcome back to the pod. I’m excited to be here with  Dr. Assaf Glazer . He is the co-founder and CEO of  Nanit  a leading human analytics company that uses computer vision to help parents navigate their child’s sleep. Essentially it’s a baby data collector that every sleep-deprived geek parent has dreamed of. A little background on Assaf: He got his Ph.D. at the Technion in Israel and was previously at Applied Materials as well as Wales where he worked on solutions for missile defense systems. Nanit was born here in New York at Cornell Tech disclosure — RRE is a long-standing investor in the company. Welcome Assaf it’s great to have you.  AG: Thank you for having me. AMLG: I’ve got a stat here, that on average parents lose 44 days of sleep during the first year of their baby’s life and nearly 3 in 10 babies have problems sleeping at night. Those numbers sum up the nature of what you’re trying to solve, but can you lay out how you identified this problem and started the company? AG: It started for me as a parent.

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Everyday home gear made smart

Makula Dunbar Contributor Makula Dunbar is a writer with Wirecutter . More posts by this contributor Wireless headphones and earbuds to fit your budget Back-to-college tech for minimalists and the over-prepared Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter . When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and TechCrunch may earn affiliate commissions. If you only have one smart home device, it’s likely something simple and fun like a voice-controlled speaker or color-changing LED light bulb . As you expand your smart home setup, you can begin to swap out gear that isn’t as flashy but you still use everyday. Switching to connected locks, power outlets and smoke alarms are all simple installs that can improve your safety and comfort in your own home. We’ve pulled together some of our favorite essentials made smart for anyone looking to upgrade. Smart lock: Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock 2nd Gen The Kwikset Kevo Smart Lock 2nd Gen is the most versatile smart lock that we’ve tested. Whether you prefer to use a wireless fob, smartphone app or key, you’ll be able to control the lock with all of them. When we compared it to similar models, the Kevo’s Bluetooth-activated tap-to-unlock mechanism was the easiest to use. The second generation of the Kevo improved on security and has all-metal internal components for better protection against forced break-in attempts. With the optional Kevo Plus upgrade, you’ll add the ability to control the lock remotely and receive status-monitoring updates. Photo: Liam McCabe Robot Vacuum: iRobot Roomba 960 If cleaning is neither your forte or preferred pastime, a robot vacuum will come in handy. Our upgrade pick, the iRobot Roomba 960 , is one of the most powerful models that we tested.

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In VC fund creation, have we passed the peak?

Jason Rowley Contributor Jason Rowley is a venture capital and technology reporter for Crunchbase News . More posts by this contributor Supergiant VC rounds aren’t just raised in China July sets a record for number of $100M+ venture capital rounds In venture capital, a variant on the Glengarry Glen Ross mandate is most fund managers’ modus operandi: Always. Be. Raising. And it seems like VCs have picked up on that. In the last few months, even casual readers of the tech press would notice many, many stories about VCs raising big new funds. So are venture investors spinning up new funds as often as they did in the past? VCs are certainly raising tons of money, and Crunchbase News reported earlier this week that these huge funds are  bending the shape of the VC fundraising curve  upward. But is that the full story? Even though 2018 has been a banner year so far for venture fund origination on the highest end of the assets-under-management spectrum, what about the market as a whole? Aggregated  venture capital and micro VC fundraising data  from Crunchbase suggests that U.S.-based firms are spinning up fewer new funds than they did just a couple of years ago. In other words, the peak might be in. Let’s take a look at the numbers, which we’ve segmented by U.S. Census region

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Business school grads and quants are winning the battle to create the next P&G

Micah Rosenbloom Contributor Micah Rosenbloom is a venture partner at Founder Collective . More posts by this contributor Startups need to respect the laws of retail physics Is VC The Right Money For Fintech? These days my Instagram feed feels more like QVC than a social network. And many of these companies are enjoying tremendous success pitching natural deodorants, unique underwear, creative candles, glam glasses, stunning shoes — all manner of well-crafted  microbrands . We’re witnessing a Cambrian explosion of new consumer startups. For the last couple of years, building a successful startup has seemed as simple as picking an out of favor category like ketchup and turning the most mundane of condiments into a  $100M+ exit ! Why try to build a robot or AI company when you can just modify and repackage a topping? But how should founders evaluate the markets for mattresses and men’s health? What heuristics should an investor use to weigh Hims and Hubble , or to compare AllBirds and Away ? And what is the right kind of founder for this sort of startup? Do you look for the designer with an unimpeachable aesthetic sense? Or an MBA who’s run the numbers on every facet of the fashion industry? It’s far from clear at this point, but I think there are a few emerging ground rules: It’s more Science than Art What strikes me as most unusual and unpredictable is that most of these companies were founded by entrepreneurs with analytical, business training. They’re strong on finance, marketing, and customer acquisition. It’s not what you would have expected in categories noted more for an ineffable “cool” factor than feature lists.  Creative design  helps a brand stand out, but accounting acumen is what keeps it alive and on its way to becoming a unicorn. It turns out that much of the same playbook for building and scaling a software company applies to a modern CPG startup

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Product Hunt Radio: The rise of voice and the evolution of VC

Ryan Hoover Contributor Share on Twitter Rya Hoover is the founder of Product Hunt and host of Product Hunt Radio. After a long hiatus, Product Hunt Radio is back. Every week I’m joined by the founders, investors and makers shaping the future of technology. You’ll hear from people you may recognize and others you should know. Upcoming guests include Andrew Chen , Brian Norgard , Michael Seibel , Garry Tan , Jeff Morris Jr. , Patrick Collison , Tiffany Zhong , Sophia Amoruso and many others. In our first episode back, I’m joined by two notable investors, Alexia Bonatsos and Niko Bonatsos . Alexia is the former co-editor-in-chief of TechCrunch and founder of a new venture fund, Dream Machine , where she helps founders “turn science fiction into non-fiction.” Her husband, Niko is managing director at General Catalyst , a leading Silicon Valley venture firm with investments in companies like Airbnb, ClassPass, Snap, Gusto, Warby Parker and others. In this episode we talk about: The rise of voice. As Google Home, Amazon Echoes, AirPods and other voice-enabled devices continue to proliferate, we’ll see user behavior shift — the same way touch screens have influenced young kids — and new opportunities arise for creative entrepreneurs. The corrosive nature of behavior online, in part influenced by today’s advertising model, and potential solutions. The evolution of venture capital, with the rise of micro VCs and accessibility of capital. Of course, we’ll also cover some of our favorite products that you might not know about, including an app to help end mobile phone addiction, a new anonymous social network (the next Secret done right?) and an app that reminds you that you’re going to die

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Product Hunt Radio: The rise of voice and the evolution of VC

Ryan Hoover Contributor Share on Twitter Rya Hoover is the founder of Product Hunt and host of Product Hunt Radio. After a long hiatus, Product Hunt Radio is back. Every week I’m joined by the founders, investors and makers shaping the future of technology. You’ll hear from people you may recognize and others you should know. Upcoming guests include Andrew Chen , Brian Norgard , Michael Seibel , Garry Tan , Jeff Morris Jr. , Patrick Collison , Tiffany Zhong , Sophia Amoruso and many others. In our first episode back, I’m joined by two notable investors, Alexia Bonatsos and Niko Bonatsos . Alexia is the former co-editor-in-chief of TechCrunch and founder of a new venture fund, Dream Machine , where she helps founders “turn science fiction into non-fiction.” Her husband, Niko is managing director at General Catalyst , a leading Silicon Valley venture firm with investments in companies like Airbnb, ClassPass, Snap, Gusto, Warby Parker and others. In this episode we talk about: The rise of voice. As Google Home, Amazon Echoes, AirPods and other voice-enabled devices continue to proliferate, we’ll see user behavior shift — the same way touch screens have influenced young kids — and new opportunities arise for creative entrepreneurs. The corrosive nature of behavior online, in part influenced by today’s advertising model, and potential solutions. The evolution of venture capital, with the rise of micro VCs and accessibility of capital. Of course, we’ll also cover some of our favorite products that you might not know about, including an app to help end mobile phone addiction, a new anonymous social network (the next Secret done right?) and an app that reminds you that you’re going to die

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Investors are waking up to the emotional struggle of startup founders

Mahendra Ramsinghani Contributor Mahendra Ramsinghani is the founder of Secure Octane , a Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity seed fund. More posts by this contributor Lessons from cybersecurity exits Is Symantec getting ready to buy Splunk? As the Gartner Hype Curve goes, from the peak of inflated expectations to the trough of disillusionment, so goes the founder’s emotional journey. Most founders hit the trough sooner or later, the proverbial nadir of their startup life. The company’s business model undergoes the dreaded pivot. Teams dissipate and the foundation starts to fall apart. Startups die. Investors cut their losses and move on to the rosier pastures of their portfolio. And what is often left is a depressed broken founder, dealing with the consequences of ‘crushing it’. But too often, its the founders psyche that gets crushed. Not much can be done about it but that’s changing. Gartner Hype Curve: No emotional support needed Several venture capitalists have now stepped in to address this challenge. The Felicis Ventures pledge to set 1% of investments aside to support founders development is a start. Brad Feld has been writing about his journey for years. Former investor  Jerry Colonna founded Reboot to find a way to help founders establish their own path of radical self inquiry.

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Commons Clause stops open-source abuse

Salil Deshpande Contributor Salil Deshpande serves as the managing director of Bain Capital Ventures. He focuses on infrastructure software and open source. More posts by this contributor Let’s define “container-native” After the Satoshi Roundtable, is there a way to bridge the bitcoin divide? There’s a dark cloud on the horizon. The behavior of cloud infrastructure providers, such as Amazon, threatens the viability of open source. During 13 years as a venture investor, I have invested in the companies behind many open-source projects: Spring Mule Ruby   Rails Groovy Grails Maven Gradle Redis SysDig Hazelca st Akka Scala Cassandra Sp innaker and others. Open source has served society, and open-source business models have been successful and lucrative. Life was good. Amazon’s behavior I admire Amazon’s execution. In the venture business we are used to the large software incumbents (such as IBM, Oracle, HP, Compuware, CA, EMC, VMware, Citrix and others) being primarily big sales and distribution channels, which need to acquire innovation (i.e. startups) to feed their channel. Not Amazon.

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How to help Californians whose tap water is tainted

David Gorn Contributor Share on Twitter David Gorn is a contributing writer for CALMatters and formerly was an editor and reporter for public media, including NPR and its California stations. Karen Lewis knows about water problems. The 67-year-old lives in Compton, where the water coming out of her tap is tinged brown by manganese, a metal similar to iron, from old pipes. The water is supplied by the troubled Sativa Los Angeles County Water District. The district has been plagued by administrative scandal and charges of mismanagement, and it hasn’t been able to generate the money needed to fix the brown water. Lewis has sat through innumerable community meetings and heard years’ worth of explanations, and she’s had enough. “Nothing’s been changed,” she said. “They’re not going to change.” Lewis is one of an estimated 360,000 Californians who can’t safely drink the water that flows to their homes. It’s not a new issue. In the Central Valley, in particular, excess amounts of arsenic, nitrates and other substances that can cause cancers and birth defects have tainted drinking water. In Compton, residents have been living with foul-smelling brown water because the cost of fixing the pipes is high, and many can’t afford to buy a constant supply of bottled water

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After Math: This is the end

All good things must come to an end, often not nearly soon enough. Unfortunately for you, generous reader, this week's deadpool does not include After Math. But we are, however, witnessing the death knells of long-haul driving, fossil fuel energy and...

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Margin of safety in venture capital

Doug Clinton Contributor Doug Clinton is a co-founder and managing partner at Loup Ventures , a frontier tech-focused investment firm. More posts by this contributor How to create the most value for the next technology wave As a former stock analyst turned VC, I still spend time thinking about public company investment opportunities. To that end, I recently read Seth Klarman’s  Margin of Safety , a hard to find, but very insightful book about value investing. The book’s title, Margin of Safety, is a term borrowed from the godfather of value investing: Benjamin Graham. Warren Buffett’s investment philosophy is very much inspired by Graham; 85 percent as much , according to Buffett himself. A margin of safety is room for error built into the price an investor pays for an asset to lower the risk that the investor might lose money. In other words, assets are usually quite difficult to price, so you try to pay some amount well below what you think an asset is worth to minimize the impact of various issues that might impact the value of that asset. One potential issue might be in the investor’s analysis of worth (i.e. the investor is wrong); another might be an unforeseeable market event, or a temporary problem specific to the company, etc. While I was familiar with the margin of safety concept, I hadn’t thought about how it might apply to venture investing, and Klarman’s book sparked my imagination. Can you fundamentally build a margin of safety into an early-stage venture investment? Can you fundamentally be “wrong” about your investment and still turn out alright? The answer seems to be “sort of,” but it’s quite different than how you do it in the public markets. To figure it out, it’s worth considering price, market and team as the potential mechanisms. Price In the public markets, margin of safety is all about the price you pay for an asset

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Will big brands disrupt higher education?

Daniel Pianko Contributor Daniel Pianko is co-founder and managing director of University Ventures , a fund focused on innovation from within higher education. More posts by this contributor Rethinking return on education investment Why Silicon Valley Falls Short When It Comes To Education Carol D’Amico Contributor Carol D’Amico is executive vice president of Strada Education Network , a national nonprofit dedicated to strengthening America’s pathways between education and employment. In the years to come, who will hospitality hiring managers trust to credential students: Cornell University or the Four Seasons? Will it be Google or Penn State that sets the standards that determine who qualifies as a good computer programmer? Could GE define competency in aeronautic engineering rather than Vaughn College? Should employers place more value in a fashion credential backed by the editors of Vogue or the Pratt Institute? Institutions of higher education are, of course, not unfamiliar with branding. The brands of top-tier institutions shape not just consumer sentiment, but the market and regulatory landscapes that have governed their existence for decades. The single greatest determinant of U.S. News & World Report rankings is reliance on “reputation.” Eight of the top 20 U.S. News universities are Ivy League schools which are, on average, more than 250 years old. Brands evolve slowly in any industry. Just ask Arizona State University’s Michael Crow or other leaders of a cadre of innovative colleges and universities that tout dramatic accomplishments, but fail to crack the spaces dominated for centuries by big brands like Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

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The alumni of these universities raised the most VC in the past year

Joanna Glasner Contributor More posts by this contributor Global unicorn exits hit multi-year high in 2018 Boston-area startups are on pace to overtake NYC venture totals Whatever criteria we look at, whether it’s schools with the highest number of well-capitalized founders, highest funding totals or even where startup investors  went to college , the same names top the list. The only surprise factor, it seems, is whether Harvard or Stanford will be in first place. It’s possible we’ll do a data-driven university- and startup-related ranking that doesn’t feature the same two schools in the top two positions. But that’s not happening today, as we look at universities with founder alumni who have raised the most venture funding. 1 OK, so who else is on the list? Luckily, there are more than two names on the list. In this survey, we looked at the top 15 schools ranked by alumni who have raised the most venture funding for their startups in roughly the past year. This is a follow-up to our  earlier piece , which ranked U.S. universities according to the number of funded startup founders who raised $1 million or more in the survey period. The results, however, feature most of the same names, and an only slightly altered order. Take a look for yourself below. The chart includes the name of the school, the total known venture capital funding raised by alumni founders since August 1, 2017, and the most heavily funded companies. Methodology In the survey results, we included universities and affiliated business schools together.

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