Author: Danny Crichton

Understanding Renaud Laplanche’s next Upgraded act

TECHCRUNCH Renaud Laplanche spent ten years building LendingClub. In the process, he created an industry from scratch. Circumventing conventional banking channels for consumer credit began in 1996 when Chris Larsen started E-LOAN, which ultimately led to Prosper Marketplace. But LendingClub, which Laplanche founded in 2007, was and remains the poster child for the business of marketplace lending. The industry’s short history has been volatile, characterized by both triumphant hype and utter lack of confidence. History of the Marketplace Lending Industry, CB Insights While LendingClub has struggled in the public markets since their late 2014 IPO, they have managed to propel their industry into significance, while rapidly expanding their share of the personal loan market to 10%. After his well-publicized departure in May 2016, Laplanche got started on his next venture in a hurry. Just a few months later he started Credify, ultimately renamed to Upgrade, a company that bears a striking resemblance to LendingClub. In just two years Upgrade has raised $142 million in funding, while originating more than $1 billion in loans since August 2017. With Upgrade, Laplanche has the opportunity to start fresh with the benefit of hindsight. The initial promise of LendingClub and their competitors was unbundling the banks. Now, to persist and grow, marketplace lenders have realized they need to rebundle, providing an array of bank-like services to better serve their end customers. This post...

Read More

Answering its critics, Google loosens reins on AMP project

TECHCRUNCH Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, has been a controversial project since its debut. The need for the framework has been clear: the payloads of mobile pages can be just insane, what with layers and layers of images, Javascript, ad networks, and more slowing down page rendering time and costing users serious bandwidth on metered plans. Yet, the framework has been aggressively foisted on the community by Google, which has backed the project not just with technical talent, but also by making algorithmic changes to its search results that have essentially mandated that pages comply with the AMP project’s terms — or else lose their ranking on mobile searches. Even more controversially, as part of making pages faster, the AMP project uses caches of pages on CDNs — which are hosted by Google (and also Cloudflare now). That meant that Google’s search results would direct a user to an AMP page hosted by Google, effectively cutting out the owner of the content in the process. The project has been led by Malte Ubl, a senior staff engineer working on Google’s Javascript infrastructure projects, who has until now held effective unilateral control over the project. In the wake of all of this criticism, the AMP project announced today that it would reform its governance, replacing Ubl as the exclusive tech lead with a technical steering committee comprised of companies invested...

Read More

12 years in, TechStars doubles down on corporate relationships

TECHCRUNCH The goal of any accelerator is to back startups that are reaching exponential growth. Sometimes, though, the accelerator itself hits that inflection point. TechStars, which was founded in 2006, has expanded aggressively over the past twelve years. Once a single accelerator program for a handful of early-stage startups in Boulder, the program now encompasses 44 separate programs covering six continents and a large number of industry verticals. The firm has hundreds of employees across its headquarters and member programs, and more than 1,600 portfolio companies. Along the way, the mission of TechStars has evolved, from purely accelerating a...

Read More

Trump expands tariffs on China by another $200 billion, threatens more

TECHCRUNCH By this point, you should all know the drill. Another day, another massive tariff from the Trump administration. After rumors the past few weeks that the president was considering expanding tariffs to another $267 billion worth of imported goods from China, the administration announced today that it would expand them merely to another $200 billion worth of goods, which has the convenience of being a nice round number. In a White House statement, the president announced a 10% tariff to be implemented by next week on September 24, which will then increase to 25% at the start of...

Read More

In Bad Blood, a pedestrian tale of heuristics and lies

TECHCRUNCH In a world where thousands and thousands of startups are started in the Bay Area every year, becoming a name that everyone recognizes is no small feat. Theranos reached that summit, and it all came crashing down. The story of the fraudulent rise and precipitous fall of the company and its entrepreneur, Elizabeth Holmes, is also the singular story of the journalist who chronicled the company. John Carreyrou’s tenacious and intrepid reporting at the Wall Street Journal would ultimately expose one of the largest frauds ever perpetrated in Silicon Valley. Bad Blood is the culmination of that investigative...

Read More

The second blockchain bubble is now complete – what’s next?

TECHCRUNCH The last few months haven’t been easy for crypto investors. Following the dizzying highs of crypto trading late last year, which saw Bitcoin reach a peak of $19,276 and a market cap of $323 billion and Ether reach $1,152 with a market cap of more than $112 billion, prices have crashed. Today, Bitcoin trades at around $6,500, and Ether at $204. Their combined market caps have shed about $300 billion in value. That’s basically five Bernie Madoffs worth of losses. The situation has put crypto investors in quite the bind. As one indicative example, the Wall Street Journal...

Read More

Spearhead is transforming founders into angel investors

TECHCRUNCH Becoming an angel investor is simple in principle: have money and invest. Unfortunately for many of the smartest founders in the startup ecosystem, that requirement can prove a complete block on investing in the companies they see day after day, since early liquidity can be hard to find for founders. Spearhead was launched earlier this year with a mandate to identify promising startup founders and give them cash to invest in startups autonomously. The brainchild of AngelList’s Naval Ravikant and Accomplice’s Jeff Fagnan, the program identifies promising startup founders and provides them with $200,000 of investible capital, and...

Read More

Apple’s 5G iPhone conundrum

TECHCRUNCH Wednesday is Apple’s big product release day, where analysts expect the company to release the next edition of the iPhone. While the usual upgrades to the screen, CPU, and storage are expected as always, one major lingering question is how the company is going to handle 5G, the next-generation telecommunications standard. The conventional wisdom among analysts is that Apple will ignore 5G in 2018 and 2019 just as it took extra time to rollout 3G and 4G chipsets in its phones. A typical example of this analysis comes from Chris Smith at BGR, who says that “We already saw what Apple did when 4G LTE came out. The company waited for carriers actually to offer decent coverage before launching the first 4G iPhone. That was the iPhone 5, by the way, which launched more than a year after the first Android-based LTE phones came out.” I’m not nearly as convinced. There are many reasons for Apple to ignore the tech this year, which I will get to in a moment, but one major factor could drive an earlier discussion of 5G than expected: Apple’s growth markets, particularly in China. China is becoming one of Apple’s most important markets for its smartphones, and particularly for its flagship iPhone X. It’s greater China revenue in the third quarter of this year was $9.6 billion, and its operating income from the...

Read More

Right Now in Politics and Business