April 1, 2023

Welcome to Startups Weekly, a new, people-focused take on this week’s startup news and trends. To receive this message in your inbox, Subscribe here.

The bets aren’t just on Wall Street anymore — they’re in your group chats, book clubs, and the awkward shuffle that happens when everyone is trying to get out of the door at the same time when class is over.

Community investment clubs are nothing new, but a newfound interest in decentralization and the glittering — albeit a hangover now — lure to get to the bottom of the rocket ship project has sparked a new wave of efforts around group investing.

Individualism is out. Collectivism prevails. This week brings a whole bunch of examples to prove it.

Let’s start with Stanford. Three years ago, a group of Stanford students began working with Fenwick & West to find a legal structure that met their needs: no accreditation requirements or hard limits on the number of participants. That effort eventually turned into Stanford 2020, an investment club that raised $1.5 million for its inaugural fund. Fast forward to today, and the club’s leader, Steph Mui, is trying to replicate that playbook in the form of a venture-backed startup. PIN, which stands for “The Power of Numbers,” recently raised a $5.6 million seed round led by Initialized Capital, with investments from GSR, NEA, Industry, and Canaan.

Mui credits the growing attention around crypto-native DAOs as part of the reason investment clubs are getting more attention these days. “We started before DAOs became really cool,” Mui said. “When we started, the DAO-like structure we built around voting was more of a necessity from a regulatory standpoint…now it’s actually a huge benefit.”

From helping Stanford students invest in their peers to trying to help anyone in the community do the same, it’s a big bet on investing in the future. As May said, when Stanford 2020 first launched, some responded that it was an unsurprising move for a privileged group of people to participate in a privileged asset class. It almost completely prevented the startup from existing.

“For me, what changed that divide was talking to over 100 groups … and realizing that wasn’t the case,” she said. “Now that I’m a founder, I realize that all startups have very different needs…all of these groups benefit from having all different types of community clubs on their salary scales because they need expertise. “

While interest has certainly consolidated, there have been hurdles in gaining a diverse beta audience (and ensuring startups want club money in the first place).

For my entirety – and for this title to really make sense – please read my latest TechCrunch+ article, written with my work buddy Anita Ramaswamy: “The investment club is cool again, and maybe the community is cool too.” And, thanks You’re a Startups Weekly subscriber, and here’s a little TC+ discount for you: Enter “STARTUPS” at checkout for a 15% discount on your subscription.

For the rest of this newsletter, we’ll keep up with Sequoia’s latest wave of betting, layoff updates, and as always, you can get this newsletter by forwarding it to a friend or follow me on twitter. I’m grateful to you!

Soaring Sequoias

Despite the regional slowdown, Sequoia Capital India and Southeast Asia has announced the latest batch of companies in its accelerator. The full list of companies is in the story, but just know that most are building for the global market, with nearly half operating in the US and European markets, and unsurprisingly, the one-click checkout game is involved.

Here’s why it matters: The Surge program is becoming a force to be reckoned with, building up a roster of useful imprints that may have been approved for subsequent rounds. Alumni have raised more than $1.7 billion in follow-on funding, and 60% of companies in the first cohort were able to raise Series A and beyond. Former participants include Doubtnut, Khatabook, Bijak, Juno and Apna Club.

India's Captain Fresh raises $60 million, doubling its valuation to $500 million in three months

Image Source: Getty Images

VC-backed people take a hit

Enjoy the good news? Great, because we’re going to take the hard turn and go into another layoff update.

  • This week, real estate tech startup Reali closed after raising $100 million a year ago, as other homebuyer-focused startups struggle.
  • If not inflation, its supply chain, as TC’s Kyle Wiggers told us in his latest scoop. Fourkites, which helps manage road, rail, ocean, air and package freight, laid off employees — raising $30 million a few weeks later, according to SEC filings.
  • I published a scoop on Friday about the layoffs at Argyle, a fintech company that wants to be an “employment record plaid.” The company is laying off 20 people, or 6.5% of its workforce, but it’s unclear how many, if any, contractors have been let go and what, if any, severance details will look like.
  • Better.com is also set for more layoffs, which TC’s Mary Ann Azevedo reports will be the fourth layoff at a mortgage provider in nine months.
marine climate technology

Image Source: Getty Images

If you missed last week’s newsletter

Read here: Return and Expulsion. “We’ve also recorded a companion podcast, and if you prefer newsletters, “Black Girls Code’s development story offers a complex perspective on many different things.” “

  • The 2022 TECHCRUNCH DISRUPT is over. wait for it. see? Yes, I am also very excited.
  • Listen to TechCrunch’s other podcasts, including our cryptocurrency-focused show on Chain Reaction and our founder-focused show on Found. TechCrunch podcasts also continue to make me happy, so Watch out for all the great shows they’re putting out.
  • Remember, TechCrunch Live is on a brand new platform, and we’ve made it easier to apply for pitch practice. Investors (and my inbox) can attest to the importance of concise, savvy, and clear pitches, so it’s great to see. Startups can now apply to Pitch Practice any day, any time fill out this form.
  • Tap into opportunities at TC Sessions: Crypto in Miami this November. Yes, you heard that right, we’re going to Miami.
  • Finally, TechCrunch Live is coming to Minneapolis. Join the TechCrunch staff on Sept. 7 to interview the best and brightest in the city. Minneapolis is one of the best cities in the Midwest to start a business – and you’ll soon find out why!

Seen on TechCrunch

DoorDash hit by data breach linked to Twilio hack

Meet the Former Amazon Satellite Engineer Who Wants to Disrupt Hardware Workflows

$10B crypto development platform Alchemy acquires first coding bootcamp

Carbon Direct raises $60 million to guide companies in reducing emissions

Seen at TechCrunch+

3 views: Thoughts on Traffic

Manchin’s ultimatum could turn America into a battery powerhouse

Email will be with us until the universe dies, so these startups are working to make it better

Unicorn fundraising is returning to a (very high) baseline

Well, it’s all mine. Drink some water, do some self-care, remember that emails can wait until Monday,


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