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Yesterday — December 5th 2020Your RSS feeds

Why Sapphire’s Jai Das thinks the Salesforce-Slack deal could succeed

By Alex Wilhelm

Who says that chats about enterprise software have to be boring? They don’t, we learned during our conversation earlier this week with Sapphire’s Jai Das, a pleasant time that touched on a host of topics including startup sectors, his investing group’s capital base and, of course, the Slack-Salesforce deal.

Our conversation took place about an hour before the deal was formally announced, but the tea leaves had been read by the market far in advance, so we were able to chat about it as if it was already consummated. Which it became a little while later.


Our conversation with Das was part of our Extra Crunch Live series, which you can learn more about here. If you’re not a member, head here to get started. Extra Crunch Live has previously hosted Bessemer’s Byron Deeter and Sequoia’s Roelof Botha, among others.


The whole chat with Das was interesting and good, but his comments explaining why Slack’s sale to the larger CRM giant stuck with me all week. Using Salesforce’s acquisition of MuleSoft (a company in which Das invested) as a prism, here’s how the venture capitalist discussed the plusses and minuses of selling to a bigger company.

After noting that MuleSoft might have been able to earn a larger revenue multiple as an independent company in today’s markets than it managed by selling to Salesforce, Das then detailed the sort of boost that a huge company can bring to one that is merely big (quote has been edited and condensed):

Going into your question about Salesforce and Slack, Salesforce, like any large company, does add a lot of value. When I talked to [former MuleSoft CEOs] Simon [Parmett] and Greg [Schott], they were astonished how much account control these large companies have with CIOs and CMOs.

MulesSoft would be beating on the door to get a meeting with the CIO and it wouldn’t happen. And you know, the Salesforce management team would just make one phone call, and Simon and Greg would be presenting to the CEO on down.

So I think that is the thing that people forget, that these large companies have so much ability to increase your sales velocity with large accounts, [so] it makes a lot of sense for some of these [smaller] companies to end up in Salesforce or SAP or Oracle, or WorkDay.

So perhaps Slack will find more oomph under Salesforce’s auspices than it could as a solo project. We spent the majority of our time talking about startups and smaller companies, so hit the jump for the full video and a few more quotes I transcribed for you.

Have fun!

Jai Das

Before yesterdayYour RSS feeds

Daily Crunch: Slack and Salesforce execs explain their big acquisition

By Anthony Ha

We learn more about Slack’s future, Revolut adds new payment features and DoorDash pushes its IPO range upward. This is your Daily Crunch for December 4, 2020.

The big story: Slack and Salesforce execs explain their big acquisition

After Salesforce announced this week that it’s acquiring Slack for $27.7 billion, Ron Miller spoke to Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and Salesforce President and COO Bret Taylor to learn more about the deal.

Butterfield claimed that Slack will remain relatively independent within Salesforce, allowing the team to “do more of what we were already doing.” He also insisted that all the talk about competing with Microsoft Teams is “overblown.”

“The challenge for us was the narrative,” Butterfield said. “They’re just good [at] PR or something that I couldn’t figure out.”

Startups, funding and venture capital

Revolut lets businesses accept online payments — With this move, the company is competing directly with Stripe, Adyen, Braintree and Checkout.com.

Health tech venture firm OTV closes new $170M fund and expands into Asia — This year, the firm led rounds in telehealth platforms TytoCare and Lemonaid Health.

Zephr raises $8M to help news publishers grow subscription revenue — The startup’s customers already include publishers like McClatchy, News Corp Australia, Dennis Publishing and PEI Media.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

DoorDash amps its IPO range ahead of blockbuster IPO — The food delivery unicorn now expects to debut at $90 to $95 per share, up from a previous range of $75 to $85.

Enter new markets and embrace a distributed workforce to grow during a pandemic — Is this the right time to expand overseas?

Three ways the pandemic is transforming tech spending — All companies are digital product companies now.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

WH’s AI EO is BS — Devin Coldewey is not impressed by the White House’s new executive order on artificial intelligence.

China’s internet regulator takes aim at forced data collection — China is a step closer to cracking down on unscrupulous data collection by app developers.

Gift Guide: Games on every platform to get you through the long, COVID winter — It’s a great time to be a gamer.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Daily Crunch: Google fires co-lead of its Ethical AI team

By Anthony Ha

Google fires a leading researcher, Stripe launches a new banking service and WarnerMedia shakes up the theatrical business model. This is your Daily Crunch for December 3, 2020.

The big story: Google fires co-lead of its Ethical AI team

Timnit Gebru, a leading researcher in the field of ethics and artificial intelligence, tweeted last night that Google fired her in response to a message she sent to an internal email list.

Casey Newton obtained the email in question, in which Gebru expressed frustration with her treatment at Google and disappointment at its diversity and inclusion efforts: “We just had a Black research all hands with such an emotional show of exasperation. Do you know what happened since? Silencing in the most fundamental way possible.”

Google declined to comment, except to point to an email from Jeff Dean, the head of Google Research, in which he said Gebru had threatened to resign unless certain conditions were met. (“I hadn’t resigned — I had asked for simple conditions first and said I would respond when I’m back from vacation,” Gebru said.)

The tech giants

YouTube introduces new feature to address toxic comments — The feature appears when users are about to post something offensive in a video’s comments section and warns them to “Keep comments respectful.”

Developers can now enroll in Apple’s ‘Small Business Program’ for reduced App Store fees — Just a few weeks back, we learned that Apple would be launching a program to reduce its fees from 30% to 15% for developers earning less than $1 million per year from the App Store.

Android’s winter update adds new features to Gboard, Maps, Books, Nearby Share and more — One of the more fun bits in the winter update will be a dramatic expansion of the Emoji Kitchen.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Stripe announces embedded business banking service Stripe Treasury — The company is partnering with banks to offer a banking-as-a-service API.

Everlywell raises $175M to expand virtual care options and scale its at-home health testing — Earlier this year, Everlywell launched an at-home COVID-19 test collection kit, the first test of its kind to receive an emergency authorization from the FDA.

VSCO acquires mobile app Trash to expand into AI-powered video editing — The deal will see Trash’s technology integrated into the VSCO app.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

VCs who want better outcomes should use data to reduce founder team risk — Using an objective, data-backed process to evaluate teams will help VCs make better investment decisions.

This is a good time to start a proptech company — At least, it’s a good time according to Colton Pace of Fika Ventures.

Boost ROI with intent data and personalized multichannel marketing campaigns — More mass email blasts are not going to get you the connections with prospects you crave.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

All of Warner Bros.’ theatrical movies will get simultaneous releases on HBO Max next year — This includes movies like “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Mortal Kombat,” “In the Heights,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy” “The Suicide Squad,” “Dune,” the “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark” and “The Matrix 4.”

NASA selects four companies for moon material collection as it seeks to set precedent on private sector outer space mining — The four companies all have rides booked on future commercial lunar lander missions.

Bill Gates just released a plan for US leadership on climate change, including $35B in funding — Gates wrote that we “need to revolutionize the world’s physical economy.”

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Daily Crunch: Apple announces its best apps of 2020

By Anthony Ha

Apple releases its annual best apps list, a self-driving truck startup raises $350 million and the BioNTech/Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine gets emergency approval in the United Kingdom. This is your Daily Crunch for December 2, 2020.

The big story: Apple announces its best apps of 2020

There were different winners — all selected by App Store editors — for different devices. Home workout app Wakeout! was named the iPhone App of the Year, Disney+ was the Apple TV App of the Year and the productivity app Fantastical was the Mac App of the Year. As for the iPad App of the Year, it went to perhaps the most obvious choice: Zoom.

As far as user popularity goes, Apple said that Zoom was the biggest free iPhone app, followed by TikTok and Disney+ (which must qualify as free on a technicality), while the most popular free iPhone game was Among Us.

The tech giants

Loon’s stratospheric balloons are now teaching themselves to fly better thanks to Google AI — Alphabet’s Loon has been using algorithmic processes to optimize the flight of its stratospheric balloons for years, but the company is now deploying a new navigation system.

Apple’s MagSafe Duo charger is now available — The MagSafe Duo appeared yesterday on Apple’s own store and has delivery estimates as soon as this week.

Google says its News Showcase will add free access to paywalled stories — So far, Google News Showcase has launched in countries including Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, France, U.K. and Australia.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Self-driving trucks startup TuSimple raises $350M from US rail, retail and freight giants — TuSimple was one of the first autonomous trucking startups to emerge in what has become a small-yet-bustling industry.

Virta Health’s behavioral diabetes treatment service is now worth over $1B — Virta aims to reverse the presence of type 2 diabetes and other chronic metabolic conditions by changing a user’s diet and exercise.

Space Perspective raises $7M for its plan to ferry tourists to the edge of space — Spaceship Neptune is designed to carry up to eight passengers on a six-hour journey that will include two hours spent at the upper edge of Earth’s atmosphere.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

From surviving to thriving as a hardware startup — Six strategies from Minut CEO Nils Mattisson.

A roundup of recent unicorn news — So much for a December news slowdown.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

The U.K. approves the BioNTech/Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use — The U.K. is the first country to approve the vaccine for widespread use.

Discovery will launch its own streaming service on January 4 — Discovery is the latest media company to launch a standalone streaming service, and the latest to adopt the simple naming strategy of just adding a plus sign.

Gift Guide: The best books for 2020 recommended by VCs and TechCrunch writers (Part 1) — Includes lots of good books for tech and business readers, plus my recommendation for the non-new, non-tech, yet extremely good novel “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.”

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Extra Crunch membership now available to readers in Israel

By Travis Bernard

We’re excited to announce that Extra Crunch memberships are now available in Israel. That adds to our existing support in:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • Argentina, Brazil, Mexico
  • UK and select European countries
  • Australia

Sign up for Extra Crunch membership here.

Use the code ISRAEL122020 during checkout for an additional 25% off an annual or 2-year plan. The discount code expires on December 11, 2020.

Israel has always been of interest to TechCrunch. It’s home to one of the hottest startup scenes in the world with endless successful companies emerging from the region. From 2018 to 2019, over $1.4B in funding went to Israeli cybersecurity startups. Startups like Check Point, CyberX, and Illusive Networks have helped reimagine cybersecurity, while companies like Lemonade have disrupted the insurance industry. Whether it’s robotics or hardware startups, there’s no shortage of diverse interest with Israeli startups.

We’ve also had the pleasure of hosting several in-person events in Tel Aviv over the years, and we’ve loved meeting the talented startup founders and investors in the region. There are a number of reasons to be optimistic about the future of the startup scene here, but the passion and enthusiasm of the founders in Israel is near the top of the list. 

Thanks to everyone who voted on where to expand. If you’d like to see Extra Crunch memberships available in your country, let us know here.

Join Extra Crunch by heading here.

What is Extra Crunch?

Extra Crunch is a membership program from TechCrunch that helps you spot technology trends and opportunities, build better startups, and stay connected. It features thousands of articles, including weekly investor surveys, daily private market analysis, and expert interviews on fundraising, growth, monetization, and other work topics.

We’d love to have you join our growing community of founders, investors, and startup teams.

Committing to an annual and two-year plan will save you a few bucks on the membership price and unlock access to TechCrunch event discounts and Partner Perks. Extra Crunch annual membership gets you 20% off tickets to virtual events like TC Sessions: Space. The Partner Perks program features discounts and savings on services from DocSend, Crunchbase, AWS and more.

You can sign up or learn more about Extra Crunch here.

Don’t forget to use the code ISRAEL122020 during checkout for an extra 25% off an annual or 2-year plan. The discount code expires on December 11, 2020.

Daily Crunch: Salesforce buys Slack for $27.7B

By Anthony Ha

Salesforce announces its acquisition of Slack, Amazon brings the Mac mini to the cloud and Google Maps gets a newsfeed. This is your Daily Crunch for December 1, 2020.

The big story: Salesforce buys Slack for $27.7B

The acquisition, which was first reported last month, is now official.

“This is a match made in heaven,” said Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff. “Together, Salesforce and Slack will shape the future of enterprise software and transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world.”

This cash-and-stock deal should make Salesforce a more serious competitor in the enterprise communication market. It also seems that Slack (which went public last year) was an obvious target for a takeover, due to an underwhelming stock price and a net loss of $147.6 million during the two quarters ending on July 31 of this year.

The tech giants

AWS brings the Mac mini to its cloud — This was just one of the announcements that Amazon Web Services made today at its re:Invent conference.

Google Maps takes on Facebook with launch of its own news feed — The feed is designed to make it easier to find the most recent news and recommendations from trusted local sources.

Facebook’s self-styled ‘oversight’ board selects first cases, most dealing with hate speech — The Facebook-funded body that the tech giant set up to distance itself from tricky content moderation decisions has announced the first set of cases it will consider.

Startups, funding and venture capital

SoftBank takes a $690M stake in cloud-based Swedish customer engagement company Sinch — Sinch provides cloud-based “omnichannel” voice, video and messaging services to help enterprises communicate with customers.

Voi, the European ‘micromobility’ rental company, raises $160M additional equity and debt funding — Voi says the new funding will be used to invest in technology development, fuel growth in current Voi markets and bring its latest e-scooter model to more cities.

Floww raises $6.7M for its data-driven marketplace matching founders with investors, based on merit — Having made more than 160 investments himself, founder Martijn De Wever says he recognized the need for a platform connecting investors and startups.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Bottom-up SaaS: A framework for mapping pricing to customer value — For the first time, individual employees are influencing the tooling decisions of their companies.

Who’s building the grocery store of the future? — Startups offering cashierless checkout, software analytics and robotics will clean up on aisle five.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

China’s Chang’e-5 lunar lander successfully lands on the moon — China’s Chang’e-5 mission will be the third ever to bring back soil or rock samples from the moon.

US shopping app downloads on Black Friday reached a record 2.8M installs — Many U.S. consumers spent this year’s Black Friday sales event shopping from home on mobile devices.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Join us for a live Q&A with Sapphire’s Jai Das right now!

By Alex Wilhelm

We’re live! Check the links below!

Today’s the day! In just a few hours I am chatting with with Jai Das, a managing director at Sapphire Ventures.

The conversation is part of the second season of our Extra Crunch Live series that has seen all sorts of investors and founders join TechCrunch for a dig into their work.

Das’ participation comes at the perfect moment: He invested early in MuleSoft, which sold to Salesforce for $6.5 billion back in 2018. Salesforce is expected to announce its purchase of Slack later today, perhaps before our chat. Either way, we’ll ask Das about selling companies, selling them to Salesforce in particular and what we should take away concerning the enterprise software M&A market from the deal.

Here are notes from the last episode of Extra Crunch Live with Bessemer’s Byron Deeter.

And as we noted last week, we will also dig into the role of corporate venture capital in 2020 and beyond, the state of early-to-growth stage investing as Sapphire leads rounds from Series A to Series C, API-led startups, along with the importance of geographic location in the pandemic for founding teams and more.

It’s going to be fun! And it’s in just a few hours. So make sure that your Extra Crunch login works, hit the jump, save the time to your calendar and submit a question ahead of time if you want me to see your notes before we start. In the meantime, I’m going to find my most Zoom-friendly shirt and run through my intro a few times.

We’re live in mere hours! See you soon.

Details

Below are links to add the event to your calendar and to save the Zoom link. We’ll share the YouTube link shortly before the discussion:

Novakid’s ESL app for children raises $4.25M Series A led by PortfoLio and LearnStart investors

By Mike Butcher

With the pandemic playing havoc with children’s education EdTech startups have been on a roll. A new fundraising seems to come almost every week at this point.

Today it’s Novakid’s turn. This EdTech startup is yet another ‘learning English as a second language for children’ startup. But it at least has a chance among the plethora of solutions out there, having raised a $4.25 million Series A financing led by Hungary-based PortfoLion (part of OTP, a leading banking group in Eastern Europe), alongside a prominent EdTech-focused US fund LearnStart. LearnStart is part of the LearnCapital VC which has previously backed VIPKID and Brilliant.org. TMT Investments and Xploration Capital also joined the round. Both seed investors – South Korea-based BonAngels, as well as LETA Capital, took part in this financing round in January this year, of $1.5M.

Novakid’s teaching method is based around the ideas of language acquisition by Asher, Thornbury, Krashen and Chomsky, and it is specifically suited for children aged 4-12. It is incorporated in the US with development and customer support around Europe.

Max Azarow, Co-founder and CEO said: “Novakid is reinventing English learning for kids in countries where English is not a primary spoken language. There, English would usually be taught as an abstract subject, with focus on grammar and with little live practice offered. Novakid on the other hand, implements a unique format that combines a highly-interactive digital curriculum and with individual live tutor sessions where students & tutor only speak English for a 100% language immersion.”

Aurél Påsztor, Partner at PortfoLion, commented: “Novakid attracted investor attention due to its excellent traction, which resulted in over 500% growth year-on-year both in terms of number of students and in terms of revenue. Other attractive points were strong customer retention, international business footprint and a solid monetization via paid subscriptions.”

Reminder: Last chance to save 25% on Extra Crunch membership

By Travis Bernard

Today is the final day of the Green Days Sale. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to save 25% on annual Extra Crunch membership.

You can claim the deal here.

Extra Crunch helps you spot technology trends and opportunities, build better startups, get ahead at your job and stay connected to a growing community of founders, investors and startup teams. It features thousands of articles, including weekly investor surveys, daily market analysis and expert interviews on fundraising, growth, monetization and other work topics.

Find answers to your burning questions about startups and investing through Extra Crunch Live, and stay informed with our members-only Extra Crunch newsletters. Other benefits include an improved TechCrunch.com experience, 20% off future TechCrunch  events and savings on software services from DocSend, Crunchbase and more.

Join our growing community at a discounted rate here.

The Green Days sale is our biggest discount of the year, so don’t snooze on the savings. The sale ends on November 30. If you have questions about the sale or Extra Crunch membership, please contact our customer support team at extracrunch@techcrunch.com.

Curio Wellness launches $30M fund to help women and minorities own a cannabis dispensary

By Matt Burns

“We think of diversity as a keystone issue for the cannabis industry,” said Curio WMBE Fund managing director Jerel Registre in a conversation with TechCrunch. Registre’s conviction around this program is obvious as he explains the problem the fund is addressing.

The new fund, started by the Maryland-based medical cannabis company Curio Wellness, aims to help underserved entrepreneurs entering the cannabis market. With $30 million to invest, the Curio WMBE Fund is looking to invest in up to 50 women, minority and disabled veterans seeking to open and operate a Curio Wellness franchise with a path to 100% ownership in three years.

Registre tells TechCrunch the goal is to create more diverse ownership through a proven business model. Participants of this program gain access to capital and operational resources.

Curio made a name for itself in Maryland, where it’s the largest cannabis cultivator by market share. Founded in 2014, the family-owned business operates dispensaries rooted in a patient-centric approach. While a legally separate but affiliated entity from Curio Wellness, the Curio WMBE Fund aims to give franchisees access to Curio’s secret sauce.

“In looking at the systemic barriers that women, minorities and disabled veterans face in accessing capital, we decided to develop a solution that directly addresses this massive economic disparity,” said Michael Bronfein, CEO of Curio Wellness. “The Fund provides qualifying entrepreneurs with the investment capital they need to become a Curio Wellness Center franchisee while ensuring their success through our best in class business operations.”

“Let’s bottle the success we have,” Registre added. He likens the franchise model to McDonald’s, where the national corporation gives operators a proven standard operating procedure and ongoing support.

“Our fund is unlike any other in the industry,” Registre said, “as eligible entrepreneurs will have a clear path to 100% ownership in as little as three years. Many other funds rely on a model that utilizes minority entrepreneurs as a vehicle to achieve licenses: The Curio approach flips this model by empowering diverse entrepreneurs and supporting them along the way. If something happens and an investment-funded franchisee defaults, they must be replaced by another minority or woman owner. This ensures these licensees can get the financial support they need to launch while ensuring that the fund’s ultimate mission of supporting diverse entrepreneurs is achieved.”

Registre explained that diversity is central to Curio Wellness, too. Of the company’s 200 employees, 40% are female, and more than half are minorities. At the leadership level, 38% of management is female, and 44% identify as a member of a minority community.

“Diversity is a core asset that we recognize as integral to our success and our future, and that is why we decided to create this investment fund,” Registre said.

The fund provides two phases of support. The first provides capital to franchisees to open their Curio Wellness Center and assist them in obtaining licenses, selecting a location and hiring and training employees. Once the location is operational, the fund intends to provide ongoing support around managing, sales and marketing, store operations, and ensuring employees stay updated on product information.

Curio sees its locations as more than cannabis dispensaries. The company calls them Wellness Centers.

“Curio locations go beyond the traditional experience people have at a medical cannabis dispensary — they are total wellness destinations, under the leadership of a licensed pharmacist,” Registre explains. “Patient wellness is at the center of everything we do and is exemplified by a diverse array of holistic health products, services and educational programming we offer. While additive to the medical cannabis patient experience, these features open the store up to the entire community, not limiting the healthcare experience to only those with a medical cannabis card. This practice, of a patient-first mindset through a pharmacist-led model, allows us to truly lead the pursuit of wellness for everyone who walks in the front door.”

As of writing, the fund has raised half of its $30 million target. The company says the fund intentionally targeted, pitched and secured an investment pool that includes women and minorities. The fund expects to close by the end of 2020, and applications are expected to open in early 2021.

What to make of Stripe’s possible $100B valuation

By Alex Wilhelm

This is The TechCrunch Exchange, a newsletter that goes out on Saturdays, based on the column of the same name. You can sign up for the email here.

Welcome to a special Thanksgiving edition of The Exchange. Today we will be brief. But not silent, as there is much to talk about.

Up top, The Exchange noodled on the Slack-Salesforce deal here, so please catch up if you missed that while eating pie for breakfast yesterday. And, sadly, I have no idea why Palantir is seeing its value skyrocket. Normally we’d discuss it, asking ourselves what its gains could mean for the lower tiers of private SaaS companies. But as its public market movement appears to be an artificial bump in value, we’ll just wait.

Here’s what I want to talk about this fine Saturday: Bloomberg reporting that Stripe is in the market for more money, at a price that could value the company at “more than $70 billion or significantly higher, at as much as $100 billion.”

Hot damn. Stripe would become the first or second most valuable startup in the world at those prices, depending on how you count. Startup is a weird word to use for a company worth that much, but as Stripe is still clinging to the private markets like some sort of liferaft, keeps raising external funds, and is presumably more focused on growth than profitability, it retains the hallmark qualities of a tech startup, so, sure, we can call it one.

Which is odd, because Stripe is a huge concern that could be worth twelve-figures, provided that gets that $100 billion price tag. It’s hard to come up with a good reason for why it’s still private, other than the fact that it can get away with it.

Anyhoo, are those reported, possible prices bonkers? Maybe. But there is some logic to them. Recall that Square and PayPal earnings pointed to strong payments volume in recent quarters, which bodes well for Stripe’s own recent growth. Also note that 14 months ago or so, Stripe was already processing “hundreds of billions of dollars of transactions a year.”

You can do fun math at this juncture. Let’s say Stripe’s processing volume was $200 billion last September, and $400 billion today, thinking of the number as an annualized metric. Stripe charges 2.9% plus $0.30 for a transaction, so let’s call it 3% for the sake of simplicity and being conservative. That math shakes out to a run rate of $12 billion.

Now, the company’s actual numbers could be closer to $100 billion, $150 billion and $4.5 billion, right? And Stripe won’t have the same gross margins as Slack .

But you can start to see why Stripe’s new rumored prices aren’t 100% wild. You can make the multiples work if you are a believer in the company’s growth story. And helping the argument are its public comps. Square’s stock has more than tripled this year. PayPal’s value has more than doubled. Adyen’s shares have almost doubled. That’s the sort of public market pull that can really help a super-late-stage startup looking to raise new capital and secure an aggressive price.

To wrap, Stripe’s possible new valuation could make some sense. The fact that it is still a private company does not.

Market Notes

Various and Sundry

And speaking of edtech, Equity’s Natasha Mascarenhas and our intrepid producer Chris Gates put together a special ep on the education technology market. You can listen to it here. It’s good.

Hugs and let’s both go do some cardio,

Alex

There’s no ‘hacker house’ geared toward undergraduate women, so they created one of their own

By Natasha Mascarenhas

Hacker houses are making a comeback for entrepreneurs as remote work drags on. While founders are adapting to quarantine in style, a group of college women in their 20s aren’t waiting until they are done with undergraduate work to plunge into the lifestyle themselves.

Started by college juniors Coco Sack and Kendall Titus, Womxn Ignite is a house for female and nonbinary college undergraduates studying computer science. The idea was born out of Sack and Titus’s exhaustion with remote school at Yale and Stanford respectively. After too many boring Zoom lectures, they took gap semesters and searched for a productive way to spend their time off.

“There are a lot of [programs] that target younger women to get them into coding in high school, and there [are] a lot of syndicates and founder groups for women late into their careers,” Titus said. “But there was nothing for anyone in the age range of 20 to 25 where you’re trying to find your way, raise your voice and hold your ground.”

So, they started their own program, Womxn Ignite. The duo rented out a wedding resort space in California and searched for other women who would be willing to take a gap year and experience the lifestyle. As over 40% of students consider a gap year, the demand became apparent very fast: Over 500 people applied for a spot in the house and just 20 were chosen.

The program is organized as a live-in incubator. Participants are sorted into teams based on their interest areas and are then pushed to solve a certain problem.

To do so, teams go through a variety of mentor sessions. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Womxn Ignite sets up mentorship sessions from a revolving base of female entrepreneurs. There are also guest speaker talks sprinkled throughout the week for high-profile entrepreneurs, including Melinda Gates and Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd.

At the end of each week, a team gives a presentation on their progress around problem statements, solution, customer validation and product development.

Titus says that the goal is not for everyone to come out with a company, but instead to leave with more people in your network and ideas on how to approach starting your business. One participant is writing a TV show about being a Black woman in tech; another is creating a company meant to make programs like Womxn Ignite easier to launch at scale.

Time in between those sessions is largely spent on team-based collaboration and networking. There are themed dinners and “platonic date nights” where participants are paired up and encouraged to explore the area or do an activity together to get to know one another. On weekends, women are invited to talk about their niche obsessions, whether it’s the ethical concerns of facial recognition or materials at the nanoscale.

Titus and Sack say that they charge no more than $5,000 for entrance into the program, but over half of participants are on scholarships given by unnamed investors.

Diversity of a cohort matters when trying to create a community that will systemically empower women of all backgrounds. The first Womxn Ignite cohort was mostly white, but included Black, LatinX, Middle Eastern and Asian Indian participants. They all came from top-tier schools, including Stanford, Yale, Georgetown, Columbia, Harvard, Dartmouth and MIT.

A team photo. Image Credits: Womxn Ignite

The community of women aren’t focused on classic accelerator tropes like demo days or first checks, simply because of the stage of life they are in (the majority will return to school in some capacity). Instead, the program ends with an optional-ask contract: Will each participant dedicate 1% of their annual income for the next five years to a syndicate fund? So far, most have signed yes, the co-founders said.

“That number will hopefully grow,” Titus said. “We’ll have pooled what we can [and] collectively think about how we want to spend and invest to help elevate other female founders like ourselves.”

Clara Schwab, a participant in Womxn Ignite, said that the contract will help women get more involved in venture capital, a male-dominated field, earlier in their careers.

“I don’t know any other environment or situation in which myself and 19 other really talented and smart and ambitious women, who are all interested in tech … we come together and like, discuss such a thing,” she said.

The co-founders plan to host another cohort in February and then focus on building out a digital community for the participants.

Daily Crunch: Amazon Web Services stumble

By Anthony Ha

An Amazon Web Services outage has a wide effect, Salesforce might be buying Slack and Pinterest tests new support for virtual events. This is your Daily Crunch for November 25, 2020.

And for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving: Enjoy! There will be no newsletter tomorrow, and then Darrell Etherington will be filling in for me on Friday.

The big story: Amazon Web Services stumble

Amazon Web Services began experiencing issues earlier today, which caused issues for sites and services that rely on its cloud infrastructure — as writer Zack Whittaker discovered when he tried to use his Roomba.

Amazon said the issue was largely localized to North America, and that it was working on a resolution. Meanwhile, a number of other companies, such as Adobe and Roku, have pointed to the AWS outage as the reason for their own service issues.

The tech giants

Slack’s stock climbs on possible Salesforce acquisition — News that Salesforce is interested in buying Slack sent shares of the smaller firm sharply higher today.

Pinterest tests online events with dedicated ‘class communities’ — The company has been spotted testing a new feature that allows users to sign up for Zoom classes through Pinterest.

France starts collecting tax on tech giants — This tax applies to companies that generate more than €750 million in revenue globally and €25 million in France, and that operate either a marketplace or an ad business.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Tiger Global invests in India’s Unacademy at $2B valuation — Unacademy helps students prepare for competitive exams to get into college.

WeGift, the ‘incentive marketing’ platform, collects $8M in new funding — Founded in 2016, WeGift wants to digitize the $700 billion rewards and incentives industry.

Cast.ai nabs $7.7M seed to remove barriers between public clouds — The company was started with the idea that developers should be able to get the best of each of the public clouds without being locked in.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Insurtech’s big year gets bigger as Metromile looks to go public — Metromile, a startup competing in the auto insurance market, is going public via SPAC.

Join us for a live Q&A with Sapphire’s Jai Das on Tuesday at 2 pm EST/11 am PST — Das has invested in companies like MuleSoft, Alteryx, Square and Sumo Logic.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Gift Guide: Smart exercise gear to hunker down and get fit with — Smart exercise and health gear is smarter than ever.

Instead of yule log, watch this interactive dumpster fire because 2020 — Sure, why not.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Daily Crunch: Twitter will bring back verification

By Anthony Ha

Twitter prepares to hand out more blue checkmarks, YouTube suspends OANN and Discord is raising a big funding round. This is your Daily Crunch for November 24, 2020.

The big story: Twitter will bring back verification

Twitter paused its blue checkmark verification system in 2017 as it faced controversy over who gets verified — specifically over the decision to verify the organizer of the infamous and deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

Since then, Twitter has done occasional verifications for medical experts tweeting about COVID-19 and candidates running for public office, but it hasn’t brought back the program in a systematic way.

Now Twitter says it will relaunch verification in 2021, and that it’s currently soliciting feedback on the policy. Initially, verification will focus on six types of accounts: government officials, companies/brands/nonprofits, news, entertainment, sports and activists/organizers/other influential individuals.

The tech giants

YouTube suspends and demonetizes One America News Network over COVID-19 video — YouTube said, “After careful review, we removed a video from OANN and issued a strike on the channel for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policy.”

Instagram businesses and creators may be getting a Messenger-like ‘FAQ’ feature — This new feature will allow people to start conversations with businesses or creators’ accounts by tapping on a commonly asked question within a chat.

Fortnite adds a $12 monthly subscription bundle — The $11.99 monthly Fortnite Crew fee entitles players to a full season battle pass, 1,000 monthly bucks and a Crew Pack featuring an exclusive outfit bundle.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Discord is close to closing a round that would value the company at up to $7B — The new funding comes just months after a $100 million investment that gave the company a $3.5 billion valuation.

Dija, a new delivery startup from former Deliveroo employees, is closing in on a $20M round led by Blossom — Few details are public about Dija, except that it will offer convenience and fresh food delivery using a “dark” convenience store mode.

Marie Ekeland launches 2050, a new fund with radically ambitious, long-term goals —  Ekeland used to be an investor at French VC firm Elaia, where she backed adtech firm Criteo.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

As edtech grows cash rich, some lessons for early stage — The valuation bumps for both Duolingo and Udemy underscore just how much investor confidence there is in edtech’s remote learning boom.

Working to understand C3.ai’s growth story — As its IPO looms, how quickly did C3.ai grow in its October quarter?

Decrypted: Apple and Facebook’s privacy feud, Twitter hires Mudge, mysterious zero-days — Zack Whittaker’s latest roundup of cybersecurity-related news.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. And until November 30, you can get 25% off an annual membership.)

Everything else

Biden-Harris team finally get their transition .gov domain — This comes after the General Services Administration gave the green light for the Biden-Harris team to transition from political campaign to government administration.

India bans 43 more Chinese apps over cybersecurity concerns — India is not done banning Chinese apps.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Daily Crunch: Snapchat adds Spotlight

By Anthony Ha

Snapchat introduces a TikTok-style feed, Amazon Echo Buds add fitness tracking and Vettery acquires Hired. This is your Daily Crunch for November 23, 2020.

The big story: Snapchat adds Spotlight

Snapchat has introduced a dedicated feed where users can watch short, entertaining videos — pretty similar to TikTok. This comes after the app also added TikTok-like music features last month.

Starting today, users will be able to send their Snaps to the new Spotlight feed. Viewers will be able to send direct messages to creators with public profiles (Spotlight will also include anonymous content from private accounts), but there will be no public commentary on these videos.

To encourage creators to post to Spotlight, Snapchat says it will be distributing more than $1 million every day who create the top videos on Spotlight.

The tech giants

Amazon’s Echo Buds get new fitness tracking features — Say “Alexa, start my workout” with the buds in, and they’ll begin logging steps, calories, distance, pace and duration of runs.

Uber refused permission to dismiss 11 staff at its EMEA HQ —The Dutch Employee Insurance Agency has refused to give Uber permission to dismiss 11 people at the company’s EMEA headquarters.

Facebook launches ‘Drives,’ a US-only feature for collecting food, clothing and other necessities for people in need — The feature is being made available through Facebook’s existing Community Help hub.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Relativity Space raises $500M as it sets sights on the industrialization of Mars — LA-based rocket startup Relativity had a big 2020, completing work on a new 120,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Long Beach.

Resilience raises over $800M to transform pharmaceutical manufacturing in response to COVID-19 — The company will invest heavily in developing new manufacturing technologies across cell and gene therapies, viral vectors, vaccines and proteins.

Video mentoring platform Superpeer raises $8M and launches paid channels — The Superpeer platform allows experts to promote, schedule and charge for one-on-one video calls with anyone who might want to ask for their advice.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Seven things we just learned about Sequoia’s European expansion plans — Steve O’Hear interviews Luciana Lixandru and Matt Miller about the firm’s plans.

Founders seeking their first check need a fundraising sales funnel — Start digging the well before you’re thirsty.

Will Brazil’s Roaring 20s see the rise of early-stage startups? — In September, homegrown startups raised a record $843 million.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. And until November 30, you can get 25% off an annual membership.)

Everything else

Vettery acquires Hired to create a ‘unified’ job search platform — Vettery CEO Josh Brenner said the two platforms are largely complementary.

Gift Guide: Which next-gen console is the one your kid wants? — This holiday season, the next generation of gamers will be hoping to receive the next generation of gaming consoles.

Original Content podcast: ‘The Crown’ introduces its Princess Diana — The new season focuses on Queen Elizabeth’s relationship with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and on Prince Charles’ troubled marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Save 25% on annual Extra Crunch membership with the Green Days sale

By Travis Bernard

The holiday season is upon us, and that means big savings on Extra Crunch membership with the Green Days sale. From now until November 30, TechCrunch readers can save 25% on an annual plan for Extra Crunch. 

You can claim the deal here.

Extra Crunch helps you spot technology trends and opportunities, build better startups, get ahead at your job, and stay connected to a growing community of founders, investors, and startup teams. It features thousands of articles, including weekly investor surveys, daily market analysis, and expert interviews on fundraising, growth, monetization, and other work topics. 

You can also find answers to your burning questions about startups and investing through Extra Crunch Live, and stay informed with our members-only Extra Crunch newsletters. Other benefits include an improved TechCrunch.com experience, 20% off future TechCrunch events, and savings on software services from AWS, Crunchbase, and more.

Join our growing community of founders, investors, and startup teams at a discounted rate here.

The Green Days sale is our biggest discount of the year, so don’t snooze on the savings. The sale ends on November 30. If you have questions about the sale or Extra Crunch membership, please contact our customer support team at extracrunch@techcrunch.com.

How the pandemic drove the IPO wave we see today

By Alex Wilhelm

This is The TechCrunch Exchange, a newsletter that goes out on Saturdays, based on the column of the same name. You can sign up for the email here.

I had a neat look into the world of mental health startup fundraising planned for this week, but after being slow-motion carpet-bombed by S-1s, that is now shoved off to Monday and we have to pause and talk about COVID-19.

The pandemic has been the most animating force for startups and venture capital in 2020, discounting the slow movement of global business into the digital realm. But COVID did more than that, as we all know. It crashed some companies as assuredly as it gave others a boost. For every Peloton there is probably a Toast, in other words.

Such is the case with this week’s crop of unicorn IPO candidates, though they are unsurprisingly weighted far more toward the COVID-accelerated cohort of startups instead of the group of startups that the pandemic cut off at the knees. 

More simply, COVID-19 gave most of our recent IPOs a polite shove in the back, helping them jog a bit faster toward the public-offering finish line. Let’s talk about it.

Roblox, the gaming company that targets kids, has been a beneficiary during the COVID-19 pandemic, as folks stayed home and, it appears, gave their kids money to buy in-game currency so that their parents could have some peace. Great business, even if Roblox warned that growth could slow sharply next year, when compared to its epic 2020 gains.

But Roblox is hardly the only company taking advantage of COVID-19’s impacts on the market to get public while their numbers are stellar. We saw DoorDash file last week, crowing from atop a mountain of revenue growth that came in part from you and I trying to stay home since March. As it turns out you order more delivery when you can’t leave your house.

Affirm got a COVID-19 boost as well, with not only e-commerce spend growing — Affirm provides point-of-sale loans to consumers during online shopping — but also because Peloton took off, and lots of folks chose to finance their new exercise bike with the payment service. Call it a double-boost.

The IPO is well-timed. Wish falls into the same bucket, though it did hit some supply-chain and delivery issues due to the pandemic, so you could argue it either way.

Regardless, as we have seen from global numbers, COVID-19 is very much not done wreaking havoc on our health, happiness, and ability to go about normal life. So the trends that this week’s S-1s have shown us still have some room to run.

Which is irksome for Airbnb, a unicorn that was supposed to have debuted already via a direct listing, but instead had to hit pause, borrow money, lay off staff, and now jog to the startup finish line with less revenue in this Q3 than the last. In time, Airbnb will get back to full-speed, but among our new IPO candidates it’s the only company net-harmed by COVID-19. That makes it special.

There are other trends to keep tabs on, regarding the pandemic. Not every software company that you might expect to be thriving at the moment actually is; Workday shares are off 8% today as I write to you, because the company said that COVID-19 is harming its ability to land new customers. Here’s its CFO Robynne Sisco from its earnings call

Keep in mind, however, that while we have seen some recent stability in the underlying environment, headwinds due to COVID remains particularly to net new bookings. And given our subscription model, these headwinds that have impacted us all year will be more fully evident in next year’s subscription revenue weighing on our growth in the near-term.

Yeesh. So don’t look at recent IPOs and think that all things are good for all companies, or even all software companies. (To be clear, the pandemic is a human crisis, but my job is to talk about its business impacts so here we are. Hugs, and please stay as safe as you can.)

Market Notes

There was so much news this week that we have to be annoyingly summary. 

I caught up with Brex CEO Henrique Dubugras the other day, giving The Exchange a chance to parse what happened to the company during the early COVID days when the company decided to cut staff. The short answer from the CEO is that the company went from growing 10% to 15% each month, to seeing negative growth — not a sin, Airbnb saw negative gross bookings for a few months earlier this year — and as the company had hired for a big year, it had to make cuts. Dubugras talked about how hard of a choice that was to make.

Brex’s business rebounded faster than the company expected, however, driven in part by strong new business formation — some data here — and companies rapidly moving into the digital realm and moving to finance systems like Brex’s. 

Looking forward, Dubugras wants to expand the pool of companies that Brex can underwrite, which makes sense as that would open up its market size quite a lot. And the company is as remote as companies are now, with its CEO opening up during our chat about the pros and cons of the move. Happily for the business fintech unicorn, Dubugras said that some of the negatives of companies working more remotely haven’t been as tough as expected. 

Next up: Growth metric. Verbit, a startup that uses AI to transcribe and caption videos, raised a $60 million Series C this week led by Sapphire Ventures. I couldn’t get to the round, but the company did note in its release that it has seen 400% year-over-year revenue growth, and that its “revenue run-rate [has] grown five-fold since 2019.” Nice.

Jai Das led the round for Verbit, and, in a quirk of good timing, I’m hosting an Extra Crunch Live with him in a few weeks. (Extra Crunch sub required for that, head here if you need one. The discount code ‘EQUITY’ should still be working if it helps.)

Telos, a Virginia-based cybersecurity and identity company went public this week. It fell under our radar because there is more news than we have hands to type it up. Such is the rapid-fire news cycle of late 2020. But, to catch us both up, Telos priced midrange but with an upsized offering, valuing it around $1 billion, according to MarketWatch.

After going public, Telos shares have performed well. Cybersecurity is having one hell of a year.

Turning back to our favorite topic in the world, SaaS, ProfitWell’s Patrick Campbell dropped a grip of data on the impact of COVID-19 on the B2B SaaS market. Mostly it’s positive. There was a hit early on, but then growth seems to have accelerated. Just keep in mind the Workday example from earlier; not everyone is in software growth paradise as 2020 comes to a close.

And, finally, after Affirm released its S-1 filing, competing service Klarna decided it was a good time to drop some performance data of its own. First of all, Klarna — thanks. We like data. Second of all, just go public. Klarna said that it grew from 10 million customers in the United States to 11 million in three weeks, and that the second statistic was up 106% compared to its year-ago tally. 

Affirm, you are now required by honor to update your S-1 with even more data as an arch-nerd clapback. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.

Various and Sundry

Alright, that’s enough of all that. Chat to you soon, and I hope that you are safe and well and good.

Alex

Daily Crunch: Roblox is going public

By Anthony Ha

Roblox opens its books, Snap makes an acquisition and Pfizer and BioNTech seek regulatory approval for their vaccine. This your Daily Crunch for November 20, 2020.

The big story: Roblox is going public

The child-friendly gaming company filed confidentially to go public in October, but it only published its S-1 document with financial information late yesterday.

How do the numbers look? Well, Roblox is certainly growing quickly — total revenue increased 56% in 2019, and then another 68% in the first three quarters of 2020, when it saw $588.7 million in revenue. At the same time, losses are growing as well, nearly quadrupling to $203.2 million during those same three quarters.

The company also acknowledged that its success depends on its ability to “provide a safe online environment” for children. Otherwise, “business will suffer dramatically.”

The tech giants

Snap acquired Voisey, an app to create music tracks overlaying your own vocals — Voisey users can apply audio filters to their voices, and they can browse and view other people’s Voisey tracks.

Despite commitment to anti-racism, Uber’s Black employee base has decreased — Uber’s latest diversity report shows a decline in the overall representation of Black employees in the U.S.

Google, Facebook and Twitter threaten to leave Pakistan over censorship law — This comes after Pakistan’s government granted blanket powers to local regulators to censor digital content.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Loadsmart raises $90M to further consolidate its one-stop freight and logistics platform — Loadsmart offers booking for freight transportation across land, rail and through ports, all from a single online portal.

ORIX invests $60M in Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd — OurCrowd also says that the two groups will collaborate to create financial products and investment opportunities for the Japanese and global market.

Kea raises $10M to build AI that helps restaurants answer the phone — CEO Adam Ahmad says the startup has created a “virtual cashier” who can do the initial intake with customers, process most routine orders and bring in a human employee when needed.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

If you didn’t make $1B this week, you are not doing VC right — Don’t yell at me, Danny Crichton said it!

Why is GoCardless COO Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas pivoting to become a full-time VC — “I think this is the best moment in entrepreneurship in Europe.”

What is Roblox worth? — A deeper dive into Roblox’s numbers.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Pfizer and BioNTech to submit request for emergency use approval of their COVID-19 vaccine today — These emergency approvals still require supporting information and safety data, but they are fast-tracked relative to the full, formal and more permanent approval process.

Mixtape podcast: Building a structural DEI response to a systemic issue with Y-Vonne Hutchinson — Hutchinson is the CEO of ReadySet, a consulting firm that works with companies to create more inclusive and equitable work environments.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Despite commitment to anti-racism, Uber’s Black employee base has decreased

By Megan Rose Dickey

Uber today released its latest diversity report, showing a decline in the overall representation of Black employees in the U.S. despite an increased focus on racial justice this year in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. In 2019, Uber was 9.3% Black while this year, only 7.5% of its employees are Black.

Uber attributes the decline in Black employees to its layoffs earlier this year, where about 40% of its employees in community operations were laid off, Uber Chief Diversity Officer Bo Young Lee told TechCrunch.

“As a company that has so publicly stated its stance on anti-racism, that’s not acceptable,” she said.

That unintentional decline in the Black population at Uber “led to a lot of soul searching,” she said. “Dara was certainly upset by it. Every leader was. It reinforced how easy it is to lose some ground after all the work you’ve done.”

Lee said her diversity, equity and inclusion team was consulted prior to the layoffs in an attempt to ensure there was no disparate impact on any one group.

“The unfortunate thing that wasn’t understood at the time was our customer service org in particular was hit pretty hard,” she said. “The overall rate of layoffs was 25-26% in most parts.”

But in the customer service organization, about 40% of employees were affected. And that part of the company had a higher representation of Black and Latinx folks than in other areas.

While Uber saw a decline in its overall Black population, it saw an overall net increase in women of color. And in order to get even more granular, Uber plans to start disaggregating the Asian community and Latinx community.

Uber first set diversity goals just last year. Those goals entailed increasing the percentage of women at levels L5 (manager level) and higher to 35% and increasing the percentage of underrepresented employees at levels L4 (senior associate) and higher to 14% by 2022.

Source: Uber. Uber’s overall U.S. racial breakdown

Currently, Uber is 59.7% male, 44.8% white, 37.2% Asian, 7.5% Black, 8.4% Latinx, 1.3% multiracial, 0.3% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander and 0.5% Native American.

Uber does not break out the demographics of its gig workforce, but many studies have shown people of color make up a large portion of the gig economy.

In San Francisco, 78% of gig workers are people of color and 56% of gig workers are immigrants, according to a study conducted by San Francisco’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) and led by UC Santa Cruz professor Chris Benner.

While Lee is not directly responsible for the driver and delivery population, she said they also represent a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. With that in mind, her team does advise other parts of Uber in policy setting as it relates to gig workers.

Uber has had a contentious relationship with its drivers and delivery workers for the last couple of years, especially in California. That all came to a head when California voters passed Proposition 22, a ballot measure that will keep gig workers classified as independent contractors. Uber, Lyft, Instacart and DoorDash collectively proposed and backed the measure with $206 million in funding.

On the other side of the proposition were labor groups representing gig workers. But it wasn’t just gig workers who opposed the measure. Inside Uber, engineer Kurt Nelson spoke out against the measure. In fact, he credited the measure as being the final straw that led him to seek other job opportunities.

For Lee, deciding to support Prop 22 came down to paying attention to “who gets included and who gets excluded from policies.” When looking at AB 5, the California bill that changed the way companies could classify their workers, she “couldn’t help but notice the majority of independent contractor roles that were predominantly white were being excluded from AB 5.”

For example, California exempted from AB 5 fine artists, freelance writers, still photographers, copy editors, producers and other types of professions.

“Maybe if AB 5 was applied differently, I would’ve landed somewhere else,” Lee said, being sure to clarify she was speaking for herself and not for Uber. “For me, I recognize that Prop 22 was the right thing at the end of the day.”

Meanwhile, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said the company plans to advocate for similar laws in other parts of the country and world. It’s not clear what that will specifically entail, but an Uber spokesperson said the company plans to discuss this type of framework with stakeholders in other states and countries.

 

Reddit appoints second Black board member this year

By Megan Rose Dickey

Reddit has appointed to its board of directors Paula Price, who has served on the board of six public companies, including Accenture and Deutsche Bank. Price’s appointment makes her one of two Black directors on the company’s board.

“Paula’s vast experience as a world-class financial leader and strategic advisor will be a tremendous asset to us in the years ahead,” Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said in a statement. “Best of all, she embodies the two qualities most important to us for this Board seat: expertise leading companies through periods of transformative growth and real passion for Reddit’s mission.”

Before Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian stepped down from the board and urged the company to appoint a Black director to take his place, Reddit had zero Black board members. Reddit took Ohanian’s advice and appointed Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel to the board.

We’ve seen an increase in Black board members across the board at tech companies in the last couple of years. Most recently, Pinterest announced its first Black board member in August, followed by the addition of a second one in October.

Here’s a look at Black board member representation at major tech companies.

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