Email startup Front recently announced a $10M Series A capital raise. As always with company announcements there is intriguing information underneath the corporate talk. Front founder Mathilde Collin highlights how the company started as convenient inboxes to managed “collective” email, and that they are now looking to help users deliver AI-assisted email. This perspective made me think of a famous post by Chris Dixon, but with a twist: come from the tool, stay for the AI.
This week we are sending the 100th issue of Board Observers Weekly – with the same excitement as the 1st issue on February 25th, 2014. Our mission is still the same and seems even more relevant now: with dozens of articles and posts published each week, how to make sure startup founders, investors and employees focus on the most insightful stuff? We curate the best posts and have them sent to your inbox, each Tuesday – subscribe here if you’re interested!
In less than a decade, media consumption has dramatically changed. Apologies for that obvious statement, but when you think about it, it is insane how fast it changed, compared to how long traditional media dominated. There is extensive explanation of this shift — Moore’s law, broadband speed — so I want to focus on what actually changed, and what didn’t.
Who is the WeChat of the West? Recent article by a16z partner Connie Chan described how a single app could offer most mobile services users need. Enabled by end-to-end integrations and a seamless payment system, WeChat helps hail a cab, order food, book doctor appointments, pay bills, read news and meet people nearby. The core feature (which WeChat masters): messaging. For once, Silicon Valley tech giants got inspired by this Chinese paradigm shift, and are now racing to offer the one messaging app for everything mobile.
I’ve been in the French tech industry since 2009 and as far as I remember I’ve never seen 2 weeks like what we’ve just seen in France.
Blablacar raised a megaround to further speed up its growth. Deezer & Showroomprive announced their IPO. OVH laid out big expansions plans announcing $1B turnover by 2018. Leetchi got bought. Maturing startup iAdvize announced a large serie B fundraising. Newly born startups like Livementor announced their seed round (with tech entrepreneurs fund ISAI and angels like Nicolas Brusson from Blablacar & Thibaud Elzières from Fotolia).
All that in ~10 days. In France. Wow!
This tweet from Simon Sinek made me think of startup teams, and how what Simon says apply to them. Where does trust come from? I asked myself what made me trust my peers at TVTY. I trust them like crazy – all of them. I don’t care about their experience, performance, seniority. My trust in them is rooted in their intellectual integrity.
Industry rule number four thousand and eighty
Record company people are shady
A Tribe Called Quest – Check The Rhime
I’ve been a Spotify user since February 2012 (= only $400 in subscription costs so far, an outright steal). I listen to albums, not singles, make (some) playlists, share (a little) and, most of all, never discovered any new music through the service. Spotify is like Amazon to me: I find what I look for, but was never sold/recommended anything. Though I often think you don’t need new music when you have The Low End Theory, how am I discovering and loving tons of old and new artists? Labels.
“Focus on the customer”. “Fall in love with the problem”. We hear those all the time as absolute startup advice. What about venture capital firms? They’re not startups but shouldn’t that kind of advice apply to them? How? What problem(s) do VCs have to fall in love with? Who are their customers and how do they focus on them? Before giving an answer to these questions, let’s make sure we all agree on how venture capital works.
Paypal mafia member and former Square COO Keith Rabois recently said on Twitter that you “can’t win payments with money”. Indeed, money is a must-have but certainly not enough to build a competitive advantage in the payment industry. Mobile payment company LYDIA recently announced a €3.6 million Series A equity round with a pretty basic yet strong take on mobile payment: user-first (and by user they include both B2B and B2C users) and value created for all stakeholders. LYDIA CEO Cyril Chiche accepted to answer our questions regarding the future of his company and how it positions itself in the industry.
Bill Gurley gave an interview a few weeks ago in the WSJ where he sounded alarm on the very high cash burn rates of big startups these days. It triggered an immense debate as he was immediately echoed by Fred Wilson, this “Winter is coming” post from Techcrunch post along with deeper commentary from Mark Suster or Danielle Morill.
The trade-offs between profitability and growth is one of the most fundamental and (generally) misunderstood business topic in the startup ecosystem. Here I’ll explain why there is no “right” amount of burn for a company, and I’ll try to give you some frameworks you can use for thinking about this problem.