Welcome to Startups Weekly, a nuanced tackle this week’s startup news and trends by Senior Reporter and Equity co-host Natasha Mascarenhas. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.
Tech’s guiding principles nowadays aren’t too difficult to search out: discipline, focus and money conservation. But I’ve all the time found those self same focuses to be especially in conflict with what it means to be an early-stage founder pitching your vision: You might have to have Elon Musk-level ambition, big dreams and the flexibility to sell an organization to investors before there are any real metrics behind it.
In some ways, it’s the job of the investor to see the rationale to say yes anyway. In other ways, the downturn may be very much making early-stage founders professionalize sooner and sooner; philosophically looking more just like the late-stage company pitching for its Series C than the buzzy pre-seed.
I’ve been noticing small things about how early-stage founders have modified their pitches, suggesting that the checks are currently less in regards to the messiah and more in regards to the monetization.
Read the remainder of my column on TC+: “Founders change their pitch.”
In the remainder of this text we’re talking about AI attribution, enterprise layoffs and modern entrepreneurship. As all the time, you’ll be able to follow me on Twitter or Instagram to proceed the conversation. In case you feel like supporting me extra, subscribe to my very free Substack.
We’re actually beginning to see AI be a think about tech layoffs
Layoffs are almost a day by day occurrence during this news cycle — I covered Chief and Clubhouse layoffs inside an hour of one another — but the explanations behind each reduction often lack specificity. Dropbox surprised me. CEO Drew Houston, who laid off 16% of staff this week, cited “the AI era of computing” in relation to the layoffs. “We’ve believed for a few years that AI will give us latest superpowers and completely transform knowledge work. And we’ve been constructing toward this future for a very long time, as this 12 months’s product pipeline will display,” he said.
Here’s what to know: I expect there to be more redundancies in workforces which might be partially attributed to artificial intelligence. It’s not a latest take: The priority I hear most frequently around AI is its ability, or intent, to exchange everyone’s jobs. To interrupt from that pattern is to land a lot of snaps: Harvey AI, backed by Sequoia this week, is the excitement throughout tech dinners for its pitch to supercharge lawyers.
TC’s Mary Ann Azevedo broke news this week: “Fintech-focused VC firm Anthemis Group lays off 28% of staff as a part of restructuring.” She reports, “Anthemis declined to offer further specifics around its strategy moving forward, as a substitute pointing me to this blog post from co-founder Amy Nauiokas. Within the post, Nauiokas writes that the firm goals to “translate 2022’s reckoning in private markets into enduring change within the structure and approach to early-stage investing.”
Here’s what to know: We don’t see enterprise layoffs often, although I actually have a sense many are ghosts nowadays. Reductions will proceed — and possibly more loudly this time. Last June, Backstage Capital fired most of its staff, with now only two people remaining at the venture firm.
A contemporary tackle an entrepreneur
On Equity this week, I interviewed Ocho’s Ankur Nagpal, the founding father of the business owner-focused fintech, in addition to Teachable and Vibe Capital. We spoke about every little thing from the temperature of solo GPs and the way constructing in public has impacted his trajectory.
Here’s an excerpt we got inside minutes of recording: “An important CEO … you may have to be mildly sociopathic. And there’s lots of stuff that I similar to struggled with when it got here to being CEO, because it might be against my values as an individual,” Nagpal said.
- A weird parallel: Instacart’s co-founder and former CEO Apoorva Mehta raised $30 million for his new healthcare startup, WSJ reported last 12 months. That news makes it all of the more interesting that Instacart’s current CEO, Fidji Simo, co-founded a healthcare clinic, according to Fortune. Based on TechCrunch, what a weird parallel between a grocery delivery startup’s past and present leadership! Jokes aside, possibly it’s a nod to what Amazon tried to do with Whole Foods and One Medical, Instacart edition.
- Big apologies: to those that I missed in Boston last week. I used to be able to jump on stage but then food poisoning — from a coffee shop that shall remain unnamed — got the very best of me. I heard it was a hoot, though, so try TC+ recap posts coming at you soon.
- Programming note: In case you’re reading this on a browser, get this in your inbox too! Subscribe here and share it along with your friends.
- In fact: It’s already Disrupt season. Reminder that there’s a ticket for each budget and role.
- And at last, I actually have a shameless plug: Scoops make me! In case you hear a few enterprise firm or startup winning, raising, flailing, or, oh I don’t know, booting an executive due to internal happenings, tell me. I like seeing early pitch decks and term sheets too. Completely satisfied to speak about anonymity and explain more of my process and what I’m searching for. You may tell me stuff on Signal at +1 925 271 0912. No pitches, please.
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Care for yourself,