Author: Connie Loizos

The overlooked opportunity in tackling public finance

TECHCRUNCH If you’re a certain age, it’s likely that you’ve never given a second thought to buying a municipal bond or the process of bond buying, even if you’ve intuited, rightly, that’s it’s an intentionally opaque business. Yet there could be a big opportunity for startups, and for people looking for places to invest, and for cities with crumbling infrastructures, in disrupting the status quo — if only everyone starts playing closer attention. First, there’s a strong case for buying bonds. Earlier this year, the Trump administration capped at $10,000 the amount that taxpayers can deduct in property tax...

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New Zealand to VCs and hedge fund managers buying up its land: No more

TECHCRUNCH Over the last couple of years, a once well-kept secret began to gain traction in New York media outlets: wealthy American investors, including VCs and hedge fund managers, had begun snapping up tracts of land in New Zealand, largely out of fear that a Trump administration could have a destabilizing effect on an already polarized United States but also owing to growing concerns about climate change and other impending disaster scenarios. Now, facing a growing backlash over rising housing prices, New Zealand’s parliament has banned non-residents from purchasing most types of homes, aside from new apartments in large...

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Crypto firm Pantera Capital is looking to raise up to $175 million for a new venture fund

TECHCRUNCH Pantera Capital, which has made its mark in recent years by investing early and often in a wide variety of digital assets, is looking to raise up to $175 million for its third venture fund — an enormous jump from the $25 million it deployed for its second venture fund and its $13 million debut venture fund, which it closed in 2013. Firm partner Paul Veradittakit says the target amount is a “function of how fast the space is moving, the talent coming in, the opportunities, and the sizing of rounds. With more interesting later-stage investments [on our...

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Catching up with startup advisor (and Wealthfront CEO) Andy Rachcleff

TECHCRUNCH Andy Rachleff, who cofounded the venture firm Benchmark back in 1995 and has more recently been leading the wealth management firm Wealthfront and teaching at Stanford, is widely sought out for his startup advice. It has become harder to come by, though, given the demands on Rachleff’s time. Most notably, Rachleff has had to dial back his work at Stanford toone course during one quarter of the year — a class that we can only guess is heavily oversubscribed by students. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy the work. Right now, he’s helping two longtime friends, AppDynamics cofounder Jyoti Bansal...

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AppDynamics founder Jyoti Bansal and longtime VC John Vrionis are now taking applications for their new accelerator program

TECHCRUNCH With so much money being stuffed into Silicon Valley companies these days, it’s hard to stand out as an investor, but John Vrionis and Jyoti Bansal have what they think is a winning approach — one that’s a win for startup founders, too. A little background first. Back in May, Bansal who sold his company AppDynamics to Cisco for $3.7 billion last year, announced that he was teaming up with Vrionis, who’d spent the previous 12 years with Lightspeed Venture Partner. What they created together is a new venture firm called Unusual Ventures. It launched publicly with a $160 million debut fund and a mission of also creating a startup education program. Fast forward a few months, and the firm will today begin accepting applications for a seven-week accelerator program that promises founders seven different three-hour-long sessions — one each week for seven weeks — with veterans of the startup industry. In return, they receive a convertible note that can range from $250,000 to $1 million, depending on the stage of the company. Called Unusual Academy, the idea is to help these teams reach so-called product-market fit faster than they could otherwise. It also aims to prevent them from taking on too much seed funding, which can scare off Series A investors who sometimes see a glut of seed funding as a sign that a startup can’t figure out what...

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Cowboy Ventures just rounded up $95 million for its third fund

TECHCRUNCH Cowboy Ventures, the early-stage venture firm launched in 2012 by longtime VC Aileen Lee, has lassoed $95 million in capital commitments for its third fund, up from the $55 million that it raised for its second fund and more than twice what it raised for its $40 million debut fund. That investors are doubling down on the firm isn’t a surprise, given its track record. The firm’s very first check was to Dollar Shave Club, which sold in 2016 for a reported $1 billion. Other early exits include the sale of the nutrition coaching app Rise to One Medical for...

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Foundry Group quietly announces a big fat $750 million fund

TECHCRUNCH Foundry Group, the Boulder, Co.-based venture firm cofounded 11 years ago by startup whisperer Brad Feld, has raised a $750 million seventh fund to target early-stage and growth-stage companies, as well as to invest in other venture funds. It sounds like — and is — a lot of money, though the firm notes that it encompasses all of the firm’s various strategies, whereas its last fund, a $500 million fund that it closed in 2016, was used to invest in other venture funds and growth-stage companies alone; Foundry was separately managing its early-stage bets in a different fund. It’s a little confusing, but if you really want to know the details, Feld breaks them out in a post: For historical reference, our early-stage funds (FG 2007, FG 2010, FG 2013, and FG 2016) are all $225 million in size. Our first early growth fund raised in 2013, Foundry Group Select, is also $225m in size. In 2016, when we raised Foundry Group Next, we approximately doubled the size of that fund to $500 million since 30% of it was going to be invested in partner funds and 70% in early growth. So, at the beginning of 2016, we effectively raised $725 million (FG 2016 and Foundry Group Next). Foundry Group Next 2018 is simply the combination of those two funds rounded up slightly. Foundry was founded by Feld, Ryan McIntyre, Jason Mendelson, and Seth Levine...

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Exclusive: HR startup Namely, once a high flier, gets a new CEO and $60 million in new funding to soar again

TECHCRUNCH Namely, a 400-person, six-and-a-half-year-old company, has mostly had the kind of trajectory that other startups envy. Mostly. The startup’s mobile-first platform — which sells payroll, talent management, and other HR services to mid-size businesses across the U.S. via subscription software — has for years been seen as among New York’s most promising businesses. Investors like True Ventures and Lerer Hippeau (not to mention a very long list of angel investors) poured into the company’s early rounds and sang its praises, Last year, Forbes included the company on its list of 100 top cloud startups. The abrupt firing of the company’s cofounder and CEO, Matt Straz, back in May, cast a bit of a cloud over the company. Straz, who’d built the company from the ground up, was let go following an investigation into actions “inconsistent with that which is expected of Namely leadership,” the company told employees at the time. In a series of calls with investors yesterday, none would elaborate on Straz’s alleged behavior, preferring to reiterate the company’s earlier talking points. (We weren’t able yesterday to reach Straz, who has deleted his LinkedIn account and seemingly abandoned Facebook for now.) Still, credit is due for moving Namely forward more quickly than at other HR startups that — coincidentally and strangely — have also parted ways with their founding CEOs over HR issues. (Think Zenefits and Betterworks.)...

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