Author: Connie Loizos

VC Brian O’Malley jumps from Accel to Forerunner Ventures

TECHCRUNCH Brian O’Malley may be the most-poached venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. While rising through the ranks at the global investment firm Battery Ventures, where O’Malley had led deals in Hotel Tonight among others, he was plucked out of the firm by Accel Partners in 2013, where both O’Malley and Accel thought he could be even more successful. Now, fast forward five years, and O’Malley is announcing today (through Forbes) that he just joined Forerunner Ventures, the top e-commerce investing firm launched in 2010 by founder Kirsten Green. That O’Malley is willing to make moves is hardly a knock....

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Grove just raised $8 million to make traditional financial planning affordable to pretty much everyone

TECHCRUNCH Financial advisors aren’t cheap to use. They aren’t always seen as trustworthy, either, with many advisors receiving — or perceived as receiving — incentives for recommending certain products over others. Grove, a two-year-old, San Francisco-based startup, is taking on both of these issues through software that makes it easier to its own financial advisors – who are paid a straight salary — to help greater numbers of people, and more cost-effectively. Specifically, for $600 a year, a customer can talk with or email his or her financial advisor about all kinds of big and small decisions, from which index funds are worth considering, to whether a particular house is within reach given that person’s retirement goals. So far, the company has just 12 employees, half of whom are financial advisors and the other half of whom are working on the product itself. Cofounder and CEO Chris Hutchins won’t reveal how many people each financial advisor is working with currently out of fear that it might give away too much about the young company’s revenue. But generally speaking, the number of clients who advisors work with can vary widely, from tens to many hundreds. (In a 2016, Barron’s article of the “best” 1,200 financial advisors in the U.S., the advisors worked on average with a stunning 520 families.) Either way, Grove’s investors — many of whom are athletes —...

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You aren’t alone; U.S. adults broadly think around 40 percent of the news is misinformation

TECHCRUNCH A new survey underscores what you already know. People don’t trust traditional media as they once did. They trust social media even less. And certain groups in particular, including Republicans and people with a high school education or less, are the most suspicious that what they read isn’t accurate. The Gallup/Knight Foundation breaks it down in a new survey of 1,440 American recruited randomly to assess how pervasive U.S. adults believe misinformation is, and how responsible major internet companies are for preventing its dissemination. The findings aren’t pretty. Overall, Americans think that 39 percent of the news they see on TV or hear on the radio or read in newspapers is deliberately intended to deceive. U.S. adults think it’s even worse when it comes to news they’ve discovered via social media; according to this same survey, participants said that fully two-thirds of the news they discover through social media is misinformation in some form. Political leanings have an impact on perceptions, as you might imagine. Politically, for example, 51 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of self-described conservatives are more likely to perceive misinformation when it comes to legacy media, compared with just 23 percent of Democrats and 24 percent of liberals.  Exposure also plays a role. Americans who say they pay a “great deal” of attention to traditional news say 37 percent of it is in misinformation, compared with those...

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PayPal is shelling our $400 million in cash for this 18-year-old company that helps gig workers get paid

TECHCRUNCH PayPal announced today that it’s paying $400 million in cash for Hyperwallet, an 18-year-old, Bay Area-based company that helps people and small businesses receive payments for products and services that they sell, including through the vacation rental platform HomeAway and Rodan & Fields, the multi-level marketing company that specializes in skincare products and employs an army of consultants to sell toners and the like. Hyperwallet interlinks cash networks, card schemes, and mobile money services with domestic ACH networks around the world to enable what it characterizes as “disruptively priced” and, as crucially, compliant mass payments. It isn’t clear...

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This new startup wants to be the ‘Netscape for crypto,’ and some investors think it has a shot

TECHCRUNCH Three-month-old Elph wants to make it easier for you to find and use blockchain-based apps. How? Through a portal that’s promising to enable users to click through to see how their crypto holdings are faring, to buy and sell CryptoKitties, or to find and use other decentralized apps. Its cofounder and CEO, Ritik Malhotra, says it will eventually be the “Netscape for crypto.” If it sounds outlandish, that’s mostly because there are still so few blockchain apps from which to choose. Malhotra and team trust that this will change over time, however, and investors seem to trust them,...

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TraceLink just landed $60 million more to eliminate counterfeit prescription drugs

TECHCRUNCH Just processed by the SEC on this bright Friday afternoon: TraceLink, a software-as-a-service platform for tracking pharmaceuticals and trying to weed out counterfeit prescription drugs in the process, has raised $60 million in Series D funding. The filing shows that 18 firms participated, including, presumably, Goldman Sachs, whose growth equity arm had led the company’s $51.5 million Series C round roughly 18 months ago. Others of the nine-year-old company’s earlier investors include FirstMark Capital, Volition Capital, and F-Prime Capital. As TC’s Jordan Crook reported at the time of that last round, TraceLink helps pharma companies comply with country-specific track-and-trace requirements...

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Coinbase is acquiring a securities dealer in order to trade your startup tokens

TECHCRUNCH Every day, tech investors and reporters are pitched on new services that intend to generate digital tokens that its creators expect will trade . . . somewhere. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Coinbase, known currently for trading a handful of the largest cryptocurrencies, wants to be that somewhere. To that end, it’s acquiring securities dealer Keystone Capital, a California-based FINRA-registered broker-dealer that, according to the WSJ, can operate as a registered investment and run an alternative trading system. Coinbase said the move sets in on path to “offer future services that include crypto securities trading, margin and over-the-counter trading.” Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Coinbase will need regulatory approval to operate under the Keystone licenses, and its COO Asiff Hirji told the WSJ that it expects to take several months after those approvals are obtained to integrate Keystone’s operations. More than $13 billion has been raised by startups via so-called initial coin offerings since the beginning of last year — a whopping $6.3 billion of that raised in just the first three months of 2018. That represents a huge opportunity for a company like Coinbase, particularly as more startups submit to regulatory oversight and, as a result, produce what are called “security” tokens.” (Startups also sometimes sell “utility” tokens, which are designed to represent future access to a company’s product or service rather than as an investment, though the SEC...

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Norwest just scored an interesting new partner: Google and Facebook alum Priti Youssef Choksi

TECHCRUNCH A lot of people who’ve been working in the venture industry — even for many years — haven’t seen a true down cycle. Somewhat ironically, Priti Youssef Choksi, a newly minted VC, knows very well what one looks like. The newest partner of the multi-stage investment firm Norwest Venture Partners has been working in tech since before the last boom and bust — and she has lessons to share about both good times and bad. It started in her native Mumbai (“Bombay to me!” she says). Choski didn’t tell her parents when, as a teenager, she applied to the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S. to study architecture and business. “I couldn’t study both back home,” she says, not very sheepishly from Norwest’s glass-lined new offices in San Francisco’s South Park neighborhood. She didn’t wind up at an architecture firm. Instead as a young graduate, she was lured to Broadview Associates, an investment bank in Foster City that advised many dozens of tech companies during the go-go dot.com era, and that ran into trouble when the market nosedived. (In 2003, it was acquired by bigger rival Jefferies.) By then, Choksi had already joined one of the bank’s sell-side clients, an internet marketing company called USWeb, whose CEO apparently asked to to work for him despite having no discrete job description in mind. Looking back now, Choksi remembers the...

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