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Top News in the A.M.
Seven billionaires have joined Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge club; among them, Groupon cofounder Eric Lefkofsky and his wife, Liz.
Entrepreneur Tristan Walker to VCs: Not Focusing on African-Americans is “Crazy”
Yesterday, StrictlyVC featured software mogul Mitch Kapor, who noted that VCs aren’t paying enough attention to the changing demographics of the country — even if it’s good business for his own investment firm, which is paying very close attention. Indeed, among other things, Kapor goes to events hosted by the Latino Startup Alliance and aligns himself with NewMe, a San Francisco-based accelerator focused on underrepresented entrepreneurs.
But Kapor isn’t alone in trying to wake up Silicon Valley. Tristan Walker, a Palo Alto-based entrepreneur who cut his teeth running business development at Foursquare and is now running his own still-stealth startup, is also doing what he can to shine a light on underrepresented groups.
It’s personal for Walker, who is African-American, which puts him in the company of just 1 percent of black tech entrepreneurs in Northern California. But like Kapor, Walker also believes proactively reaching out to African-American and Hispanic groups makes good business sense. We talked late last week.
A year or so ago, you set up the internship program Code2040 to bring black and Latino engineering undergrads to the Valley. Why?
Because for the first 24 years of my life, prior to coming here [to attend Stanford Business School], I had no idea that Silicon Valley was a place, let alone a great place. I don’t want people making the same mistake, so I thought [to] create an organization that gets black and Latino engineering graduates into internships in the Valley, and I enlisted one of my classmates [Laura Weidman Powers] to run it. In the summer of 2012, we had five fellows; this past summer, we had 18.
How does it work?
Startups only have so many resources to recruit at universities, so while you find [recruiters] at Stanford and M.I.T. and [the University of] Waterloo, my thinking was: What about engineering students at Harvey Mudd [College in Claremont, Calif.] and Stony Brook University [in New York], where I received my undergraduate degree? There are kids at these places who are incredibly talented and deserve that chance. So we visit these colleges, connect with administrators and students, educate them, and make it easier for [startups] to find great talent in the process.
Is this a pipeline problem or is there more to it?
It’s an access problem; there aren’t enough black folks here to put people in the network. But there’s an awareness problem, too. Growing up, I wanted to be an actor or athlete because I saw the Denzel Washingtons and Michael Jordans of the world. I also wanted to work on Wall Street, because those guys were very visible. As Silicon Valley becomes more visible to elite engineers who happen to be of color, the virtuous cycle will [begin]. I do think we’re at the start of something.
In another 30 years, the majority of people in the U.S. will be people of color. Is there more that VCs could be doing to target different demographics, so they aren’t playing catch-up later?
Definitely. Talk of white founders of black founders aside, focusing on this demographic is good business. [African Americans] are the earliest adopting, most culturally influential demographic in the world. To not be focusing on them is crazy.
Also, think about it: years down the road, if I’m a startup founder building a mobile app, do I build a Spanish-language version first? Do I focus on Android or iPhone first? What do I do about people who can only pay in cash? There’s a seismic shift [coming]; we should be thinking about it from now.
Anturis, a 2.5-year-old, San Francisco-based company that makes IT infrastructure-monitoring software, has raised $2 million in Series A funding led by Runa Capital and VEB Innovations.
BrandProject, a months-old, Toronto-based venture that invests in consumer products, has raised $3 million in funding from BDC Venture Capital. BrandProject rose its first, $12 million, round of funding from undisclosed sources in August.
Catchpoint Systems, a five-year-old, New York-based company that makes Web and infrastructure monitoring software, has raised $6 million in Series B financing led by existing investor Battery Ventures. The company has raised just north of $10 million altogether, according to Crunchbase.
HealthLoop, a four-year-old, Mountain View, Calif.-based whose software is used by medical practices to monitor and communicate with patients during the recovery process, has raised a $10 million Series A round led by Canvas Venture Fund. Subtraction Capitalalso participated in the funding. The funding brings the company’s total capital raised to date to $13 million.
Lazada, a two-year-old, Kuala Lumpur-based Amazon-like e-commerce platform that targets consumers in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, has raised $250 million from retail giant Tesco PLC and Access Industries, along with previous investors Investment AB Kinnevik and Verlinvest. The round brings Lazada’s funding to a stunning $486 million. Bloomberg has much more here.
Monexa, a 15-year-old, Vancouver-based company focused on an on-demand subscription billing and payment automation for its customers, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding fromYaletown Venture Partners, also in Vancouver.
AllThingsD editors Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher have signed a deal with NBCUniversal for a news and conference business that will bring their current staff to a newly named website, reports Bloomberg.Details here.
Reggie Brown, the early Snapchat employee who says he invented the idea for disappearing messages, has admitted to leaking information to the press (including those deposition videos that Business Insider ran late last month). As a result, Brown is facing a restraining order, along with possible fines and even a dismissal of the suit itself, reports Techcrunch.
We had a bad feeling about Clinkle‘s launch when it announced the “largest seed round in Silicon Valley history” in June. Now, as Fortune reports, the still-stealthy mobile payments startup has laid off25 percent of its workforce.
Yesterday, The Information assembled a list of top executives who may be looking for new opportunities, and the outlet included Scott Forstall, who co-invented the iPhone operating system but wasforced out of the company in October 2012. Reportedly Forstall has been traveling, as well as talking with Kleiner Perkins and Andreessen Horowitz, though Apple employees think it’s more likely that Forstall will start his own company than become a VC.
Hilarie Koplow McAdams has been newly appointed as the chief revenue officer of New Relic, which makes application management and performance software. As GigaOm observes, the move is likelypre-IPO preparation. Koplow-McAdams was most recently VP of global sales for Salesforce.com.
Balaji Srinivasan, who cofounded the genetic-testing company Counsyl, is the newest general partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Srinivasan, who taught data mining, statistics, and computational biology at Stanford before founding Counsyl, made waves in Octoberwhen, during a Stanford lecture, he suggested building “an opt-in society, ultimately outside the United States, run by technology.” Characterized as a “super-high-octane polymath” by firm cofounderMarc Andreessen, Srinivasan is particularly interested in healthcare, education, finance (including bitcoin), drones, and 3D printing.
King, the mobile games maker behind “Candy Crush Saga,” has delayed its IPO until next year amid fears that its flagship game has been “too successful.” The Telegraph has more here.
Quartz looks at the “mind-bendingly” complex ownership structure behind Chinese internet IPOs, asking (very rhetorically): What could go wrong?
Newsy, a five-year-old, Columbia, Mo.-based video news service that monitors and analyzes news coverage, has been acquired by the media giant E.W. Scripps for $35 million in cash. Newsy, which raised at least $3.5 million from undisclosed investors, will beoperated as a subsidiary.
QuikIO, a 2.5-year-old, Mountain View, Calif.-based cross-platform video streaming app, has been acquired by Yahoo in what sounds like an acqui-hire. PandoDaily has the story.
Gartner Group‘s four-day Data Center Conference rolls into its second day in Las Vegas today. More information here.
Canaan Partners is looking for an analyst to join its Menlo Park, Calif., office. (The firm has a health care team, but this person will focus on information technology.) To apply, you need an undergraduate degree in a technical field and between one and three years of experience working at a startup or other tech company. Canaan’s analysts typically work for the firm for two to three years before heading off to business school or to a company.
The hack that brought Foursquare back from the dead.
Venture capitalist Fred Wilson on bitcoin, data Leakage, health care and more.
Yesterday, Facebook announced that one of the most prominent artificial-intelligence researchers in the world, Yann LeCun, will be joining the company. Here’s why, suggests the New Yorker.
If a story is viral, truth may take a beating.
Ohioans lead the nation in cursing. (StrictlyVC was hoping for a World Series or NBA Championship but will have to make do with this.)
Eyelid art. It’s a real thing.
Turn your baby into a delicious-looking burrito using one of these giant, flour tortilla wraps — just in time for the holidays!
As long as you’re freezing your arse in this weather, get in the spirit with an Arctic Force Snowball Blaster. It makes three snowballs at a time that you can shoot at high velocity in the corporate parking lot. Or, heh, you know, wherever.
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