Introducing the Open Cap Table Coalition

On Tuesday, the Open Cap Table Coalition announced its launch through an inaugural Medium post. The goal of this project is to standardize startup capitalization table data as well as make it far more accessible, transparent and portable.

For those unfamiliar with a cap table, it’s a list of who owns your company’s securities, which includes your company shares, options and more. A clear and simple cap table should quickly indicate who owns what and how much of it they own. For a variety of reasons (sometimes inexperience or bad advice) too many equity holders often find companies’ capitalization information to be opaque and not easily accessible.

This is particularly important for the small percentage of startups that survive in the long term, as growth makes for far more complicated cap tables.

A critical part of good startup hygiene is to always have a clean and updated cap table. Since there is no set format and cap tables are generally not out in the open, they are often siloed rather than collaborative.

Cap tables are near and dear to me as someone who has advised hundreds of startups over the past two decades as the founder of an accelerator, a venture partner and a senior adviser at a government-funded startup launchpad. I have been on the shareholder side of the equation as well and can assure you that pretty much nothing destroys trust between shareholders and startups quicker than poor communication, especially around issues such as the current status of the cap table.

A critical part of good startup hygiene is to always have a clean and updated cap table.

I really like the idea of a cap table being an open corporate record, because the value proposition to the companies is clear. From the time a startup creates a cap table, it’s prone to inaccuracy, friction and mistakes. What this means in practice is that startups may spend money on cap-table-related issues that they should be spending on other things. From a legal process perspective, the law firm that is brought in to help with these issues has to deal with tedious back-end work, so the legal time isn’t high value for either the startup or the law firm.

The value proposition for equity holders is equally clear. All equity holders have a general and legal interest in a company’s capitalization information. They have the right to this information, which they may need for a variety of reasons (including, if things ever get really bad, an aggrieved shareholder action). So making this information clear and easily accessible is a service to equity holders and can also encourage more investment, especially from less experienced investors.

When I imagine what this project could become in the next couple of years, I think back to late 2013, when Y Combinator announced the SAFE (simple agreement for future equity). I think the SAFE is a good analogy here, as no one knew what it was and people wondered if this was a nice-to-have rather than a must-have for startups. But the end result was a dramatic improvement in the early-stage capital-raising process.

While the coalition’s founders include Morgan Stanley’s Shareworks, LTSE Software and Carta, it’s also heavy on Big Law, with Cooley, Goodwin Procter, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Orrick, Gunderson Dettmer, Latham & Watkins, and Fenwick & West rounding out the group of 10 founding members.

So what’s the real motivation of seven law firms, which together saw revenue of over $10 billion in 2020 to collaborate on an open cap table product for startups? Deal flow.

Big Law has been trying for a couple of decades to build relationships with startups at the stage where it makes no sense for a startup to be dealing with a massive and expensive law firm. Their efforts to build startup programs have often fallen short and received mixed reviews. They have also been far too heavy on the self-serve and too light on the “we’re going to give you our regular Big Law level of services at a small fraction of the costs just in case you make it big and can one day pay our regular fees.” So these firms are trying to separate themselves from the rest of the Big Law pack by building this entrepreneur-friendly tech.

The coalition has already produced its initial version of the open cap table. The real question is whether this is going to be a big deal, as the SAFE was, or whether it’s going to be a vanity solution in search of a real problem. My best guess is that if this coalition gets all the relationships right, doesn’t get greedy and understands that there is a social good component at play here, this could be, reasonably quickly, as impactful as the SAFE was.


Daily Crunch: Scarlett Johansson sues Disney, says streaming release of ‘Black Widow’ breaches contract

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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for July 29, 2021. Between the IPO cycle and earnings it has been quite the day. And Nikola’s founder was indicted on three counts of fraud. It’s busy! Let’s get into it! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3 (OK, four, but it’s about Scarlett Johansson)

  • Nikola founder indicted on fraud charges: From the you saw this coming files, former Nikola CEO and walking bottle of Mountain Dew Trevor Milton was indicted on three counts of fraud. Per the federal indictment unsealed by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan on Thursday, the former exec “engaged in a fraudulent scheme to deceive retail investors.” Not a great day for SPACs, frankly.
  • Microsoft may invest in hotel unicorn OYO: Here’s an odd one. Microsoft, the U.S. software giant, may invest in OYO, the India-based hotels startup that raised capital from SoftBank’s first Vision Fund. Why? Per our reporting, there may be some sort of cloud deal in the mix. Both parties are staying mum for now.
  • The Latin American startup market is hitting its stride: On the back of an epic boom in venture investment, founders in Latin America are finally getting their due, investors told TechCrunch. Between locally sourced capital, external funds and economies in the region that are increasingly digitally enabled, it’s a bullish time to build in the region.
  • Scarlett Johansson files suit over Disney+ ‘Black Widow’ release: The actress alleges Disney breached its agreement with her when it released the Marvel flick on streaming service Disney+ at the same time it landed in theaters. Johansson’s attorneys say Disney is “hiding behind COVID-19,” but with the delta variant being very much a problem, we must say we’d prefer to observe our Avengers films from our couches for the time being.


  • Tenderly wants more dApps: Decentralized apps, or dApps, are a big category in the larger blockchain economy. And Tenderly, a startup that just raised $15.3 million, wants folks to build more of them. The company has built a “a developer platform for Ethereum devs to monitor and test the smart contracts that power their decentralized apps.”
  • Online grocery continues to attract capital: This time it’s Merqueo, which operates an on-demand service in Latin America. Between grocery delivery and so-called “instant” grocery startups, lots of capital is finding its way into the business of bringing food to folks’ houses. Merqueo just raised a $50 million Series C for its efforts.
  • La Haus raises $100M for its online real estate marketplace: La Haus is a Colombian startup, as is Merqueo. See, we told you that Latin America was busy! In this case, La Haus raised $50 million in equity capital and $50 million in debt. Per our reporting, the company saw “transactions conducted on its Mexico portal climb by nearly 10x in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the 2020 second quarter.” Not bad!
  • More money for mental health: Talkiatry announced earlier today that it has raised a $20 million Series A led by Left Lane Capital. The startup wants to make psychiatry services available through insurance providers and has partnered with a host of them. Anything to make mental health care easier and cheaper for consumers is good by us.
  • Hello Divorce raises $2M so your divorce won’t cost $2M: Getting divorced is about as much fun as putting broken glass in your shoe while taking a hike. At least that’s what our friends have told us. Hello Divorce wants to make the whole process better. Given that divorce is something that happens rather often to lots of folks, it certainly won’t lack for TAM.
  • Pangea raises $2M for its student labor marketplace: Hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, Pangea announced a seed round today. The company’s service connects digitally savvy college students with businesses looking for freelance talent. GMV is rising at the company, and now it has more capital in its accounts than ever. Let’s see how it grows the rest of the year.
  • Odoo sells $215M of its stock: Now worth over €2 billion, Odoo, an open-source business management software play, is the first unicorn out of Wallonia, a region in Belgium. The round was purely secondary, notably. The company provides most of its software for free, while charging for certain features.
  • Employee-success startup CultureAmp raises $100M: The startup, which was founded to let companies poll their workers, is now worth $150 million. You can think of it as management analytics, providing “turnover prediction and team goal tracking,” per our own reporting.
  • In case you were looking for something entirely different, we present a review of Nothing’s new earpods.

Livestream e-commerce: Why companies and brands need to tune in

This year, livestream viewers in China are projected to spend more than $60 billion on digital shopping experiences where they can interact with influencers in real time.

Promoting everything from cosmetics to food, social media stars use Taobao, TikTok and other platforms to tout products and answer live questions.

On Taobao’s Single’s Day Global Shopping Festival in 2020, livestreams racked up $6 billion in sales, twice as much revenue as the year prior.

Sensing a trend, Western startups are getting in on the action, with companies like Whatnot and PopShop.Live raising rounds to build out their infrastructure. Looking forward, Alanna Gregory, senior global director at Afterpay, says she foresees four major trends:

  • Networks.
  • SaaS streaming tools.
  • Host discovery and outreach tools.
  • Host marketplaces and agencies.

“For brands, SaaS streaming tools will be the most impactful way to take advantage of livestream commerce trends,” Gregory writes in an Extra Crunch guest post. “All of this will be incredibly transformative.”

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

We went a bit long on the startup side of things, so let’s be brief when it comes to Big Tech.

  • First up, Amazon’s FireTV Cube now supports Zoom. Everything should support Zoom. Zoom is good. So, it’s both unsurprising and welcome that Amazon is building out greater integration with the video chat provider.
  • Next, Facebook’s next product will be a collab with Ray-Ban to build smart glasses. How you feel about this bit of news will depend on what you think about Facebook, but as a former Google Glass fan I suppose I am willing to wait to make judgment.
  • PayPal has a super app in the wings, a service that will include messaging. Do we want this? I don’t know, but super apps — mobile applications that encompass a wide range of services in a single package — are big around the world, so why not here in U.S. as well?

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

We’re reaching out to startup founders to tell us who they turn to when they want the most up-to-date growth marketing practices. Fill out the survey here.

Read one of the testimonials we’ve received below!

Marketer: Scott Graham

Recommended by: Heather Larrabee, CMO, FORM

Testimonial: “He was referred to us and blew our socks off from his initial analysis. He’s the rare growth adviser expert at strategy and execution. He’s a servant leader, a systems thinker, integrates with the team with empathy and curiosity like he’s an internal teammate, brings a wealth of cutting-edge knowledge, and a stable of incredible partners and resources. He runs with the best and the brightest, but he’s the first one on and the last one off for the day, putting in the time to make things great. He has an uncanny ability to communicate complex concepts and make them accessible for all audiences, and he’s been a foundational game changer for our business and many others.”


Huawei P50: New images leak ahead of today's launch

We got our first glimpse at the Huawei P50 at a Huawei event in June when the company launched its HarmonyOS 2 software, the MatePad Pro and the Huawei Watch 3. Now, new renders of the phone have leaked ahead of its launch later today.

The P50 will enter as the successor to the Huawei P40 series, which consisted of the P40, the P40 Pro and the P40 Pro Plus.

We enjoyed the Huawei P40 when we tested it, awarding it four out the five stars. The base model packed an excellent camera, a long-lasting battery and 5G at a competitive price. However, the lack of Google services remained our biggest issue with the phone.

The Huawei P50 will likely run on HarmonyOS, just like the new MatePad Pro.

Read on to discover everything we know about the Huawei P50 so far, including what it looks like, when it will launch and what new features we’d like to see.

Huawei’s official images show off a shiny gold finish on the sides of the phone and what looks to be a more matte finish on the back, along with a very eye-catching camera module.

huawei p50 series image showing the back

Evan Blass has shared a long thread of images and videos of the Huawei P50 ahead of its launch via his Twitter account.

The images show off the huge camera module from more angles, as well as shots of the front and the back of the phone in an array of colours.

Here we can see the slim bezels around the display and a punch-hole camera front and centre instead of a notch.

The phone appears to come in black, white, gold and pink shades. There’s also an image of the phone being dropped into water, implying it will have an IP rating, as well as evidence of a 4360mAh battery.

As seen in both the official images and the leaked renders, the P50 is set to sport a very unique-looking camera housing on the back.

The images shown during the event showed the P50 with at least four camera sensors taking up the majority of the back of the phone, along with the Leica branding that has become a staple of the series.

Huawei didn’t reveal any specifics about the sensors, but according to Twitter tipster @RODENT950, the P50 will include main, ultra-wide and telephoto lenses, while the P50 Pro will get main, ultra-wide and periscope lenses and the P50 Pro Plus will pack main, ultra-wide, telephoto, periscope and time of flight sensors

The Huawei P50 is set to be announced on July 29. CEO Richard Yu revealed the launch date on Weibo on July 19 by tagging the phone above Huawei’s official event announcement.

Huawei also shared the date on its Twitter account.

As far as price is concerned, the Huawei P40 launched at £699, while the P40 Pro cost £899 and the P40 Pro Plus was £1299. Huawei hasn’t revealed much about the cost of its new phone, so we’d expect the P50 series to cost similar to its predecessor.

1. Bring the stunning zoom from the P40 Pro Plus to the Pro models

If you are after the best phone for zooming then look no further than the Huawei P40 Pro Plus. In our P40 Pro Plus review, we raved about the sharpness of its zoomed shots and how it easily bested the beefy Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Huawei P40 Pro Plus
Huawei P40 Pro Plus and its massive Leica camera array

You do have to pay A LOT more for the P40 Pro Plus than the regular Pro though and hopefully by next year, and the P50, some of that tech might have trickled down into the Pro model. To be honest, I’d prefer if Huawei did away with the ‘Pro Plus’ model entirely as it’s just too much for one series to have multiple entries that aren’t all that different. Make it simpler and focus on a cheaper flagship and a ‘Pro’ model for those who want the best-of-the-best.

2. A higher-resolution, 120Hz screen would be nice – just don’t compromise the endurance

I have used a lot of 120Hz phones this year and the difference is obvious, especially when you pair it with a QHD+ resolution. The 90Hz FHD+ OLED on the P40 Pro series is far from poor and if Huawei was to push things a step further I would hope it could do it without sacrificing the all-important endurance. Samsung’s Exynos-toting S20 series struggled with battery life, however the Oppo Find X2 Pro does prove you can pair 120Hz with QHD+ and have a phone that can last two days.

3. Experiment with different materials

The Huawei P40 Pro is a great looking phone. It has plenty of clever touches, like the curves either end of the display and the matte back that doesn’t attract fingerprints. But, it would be nice to see Huawei experiment a little more with its materials. I’d love to see a leather back, like the glorious orange hue its high-end tablet comes in, to give it that extra hit of quirkiness.

As it turns out, the P40 Pro is a hard phone to improve on. At least in areas Huawei is able to improve it. It has one of the best cameras around, packs plenty of power, 5G across the board and a design that’s both ergonomic and attractive. If the app situation improves and some of the above requests are added the P50 could very well be an Android king in 2021.

The post Huawei P50: New images leak ahead of today's launch appeared first on Trusted Reviews.


Rocket Lab returns to flight after failed May mission with successful launch for U.S. Space Force

Rocket Lab is back in business launching rockets, after an issue during its last launch in May caused a total loss of the payloads on board. The company was quick to investigate the issue, and announced just over a week ago that it had completed that work, identified the problem and implemented corrective action to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The launch today, which took off from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, was an important one to get right: It delivered a satellite for the U.S. Space Force to low Earth orbit. This is the second Space Force mission that Rocket Lab has provided launch services for.

On board the Electron launch vehicle for this mission was a demonstration satellite called ‘Monolith,’ which is equipped with a new kind of deployable sensor that could, if it works as designed, pave the way for significantly smaller satellite buses in future spacecraft designs for things like weather and observation satellites.

This turnaround after a failed launch and loss of client payload is another benefit of Rocket Lab’s ability to quickly turnaround rockets and missions. It’ll definitely be under increased scrutiny for the next little while, however, considering that this latest mishap was the second ‘anomaly’ to result in mission failure in just under a year.


Employee engagement platform Culture Amp raises $100M at a $1.5B valuation

Culture Amp was founded in 2009 to let companies conduct anonymous employee surveys, but since then, its focus has expanded to helping employers turn the data they collect into action. The company announced today it has raised $100 million in Series F funding, led by returning investors Sequoia Capital India and TDM Growth Partners. The round bumps Culture Amp’s valuation to $1.5 billion, more than double what it was after the company’s Series D in 2019.

New investor Salesforce Ventures, along with existing backers Felicis Ventures, Blackbird Ventures, Index Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Skip Capital, Grok Ventures and Global Founders Capital also participated in the round.

Culture Amp is now used by more than 4,000 organizations with a total of 25 million employees. Its clients range in size from about 20 to 30 people to more than 150,000 employees, and include Salesforce, Unilever, PwC, KIND, SoulCycle and BigCommerce.

From its start as a survey platform, Culture Amp has grown to encompass analytics for managers, like turnover prediction and team goal tracking. It also has a sizable online community where users can connect and book workshops, including ones run by diversity, equity and inclusion experts. Culture Amp recently held a virtual version of Culture First, its annual event, with over 20,000 participants.

Founder and chief executive officer Didier Elzinga told TechCrunch that he sees Culture Amp’s Series F as a “validation of the HR space in general.”

“I think for a long time, the HR space and HR tech space have been viewed as not that interesting or important, but what we see now is that people are the most important thing that most companies have, so what can we do to craft their experiences,” he added. “I think it’s a really interesting step for the space as a whole, for an organization like Culture Amp to have made it to this level of revenue, fundraising and valuation.”

The company still has most of its funds from its Series E, but the new round will allow it to “work at a whole other level of scale,” Elzinga said. Culture Amp launched in Australia, and about two-thirds of its revenue comes from the United States. It is also growing in Europe, so some of its new funding will be used on its dual data centers. Elzinga added that the raise also gives Culture Amp a warchest to spend on acquisitions.

Over the past year and a half, employers have dealt with two major issues: a remote workforce coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and growing calls for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Culture Amp saw more employers addressing DEI in surveys; for example, the number of companies who asked employees questions like do they “build teams that are diverse” increased about 30% in 2020. Clients have access to surveys created with behavioral psychologists, including ones designed to see if women, people of color or people who use English as a second language are feeling disengaged and, if so, how to help them.

To understand the pandemic’s impact, the platform introduced well-being templates, asking if employees are feeling overwhelmed, how they feel about messaging from company leaders and gauging their willingness to return to the office.

Surveys are answered anonymously and data is aggregated to protect the privacy of individual employees. To help companies act on the results they get, Culture Amp provides what it calls an “Inspiration Engine,” or practices that have worked for other companies.

Since Culture Amp works with a large group of employers, it is able to create benchmarks by industry, size and region. This allows companies to see how their employee engagement compares to others in the same space.

Another feature, Skills Coach, is based on behavioral science research and helps managers develop “soft skills” through two-minute interactive exercises that are delivered by Slack or email.

“The experience that employees have is the thing we want to up level, but the way we want to do it and what we’re focused on is lifting managers’ capability to delivery that employee experience,” Elzinga said. Skills Coach was designed to fit into busy workdays and its usage has tripled over the past year, he added.

“We think that for all the progress we have made, we’re still at the beginning of actually delivering on that employee experience,” he added. “I think the last two years have shown us how important mental well-being is, how important diversity and inclusion is, and how important it is for leaders to truly listen to their people and then to act on that and follow up.”

Other employee feedback platforms include Lattice, Glint and Qualtrics. Elzinga said the main way Culture Amp differentiates is its team of “People Scientists,” or organizational and behavioral psychologists who design surveys, work in its product team as analysts and serve as consultants for clients.

“We see ourselves at the point now where we have enough data that we can start to do primary research on a lot of these issues and we’re looking at how can the data we are developing help inform the space in general, not just ‘here’s what our customers are doing,’ but research that shows how this correlates to that in a situation,” said Elzinga. “The people science component is a hugely important to us.”

In a statement about its investment in Culture Amp, TDM Growth Partners co-founder Hamish Corlett said, “Organizations are living in a world of unprecedented change, and the last 12 months have only accelerated this. We have seen first hand the power that Culture Amp’s unrivaled data set and unique insights have inside boardrooms globally, and we expect this only to amplify in the coming years.”


Exo secures $200M toward commercializing ultrasound device

Exo, pronounced “echo,” raised a fresh cash infusion of $220 million in Series C financing aimed at commercializing its handheld ultrasound device and point-of-care workflow platform, Exo Works.

The round was led by RA Capital Management, while BlackRock, Sands Capital, Avidity Partners, Pura Vida Investments and prior investors joined in.

The new funding gives the Redwood City, California-based company over $320 million in total investments since the company was founded in 2015, Exo CEO Sandeep Akkaraju told TechCrunch. This includes a $40 million investment raised in 2020.

Ultrasound machines can cost anywhere from $40,000 to $250,000 for low-end technology and into the millions for high-end machines. Meanwhile, Exo’s device will be around the cost of a laptop.

“It is clear to us that ultrasound is the future — it is nonradiating and has no harmful side effects,” Akkaraju said. “We want to take the technology and put it in the palms of physicians. We also want to bring it down to the patient level. The beauty of having this window into the body is you can immediately see things.”

Using a combination of artificial intelligence, medical imaging and silicon technology, the device enables users to use it in a number of real-world medical environments like evaluating cardiology patients or scanning lungs of a COVID-19 patient. It can also be used by patients at home to provide real-time insight following a surgical procedure or to monitor a certain condition.

Exo then adds in its Exo Works, the workflow platform, that streamlines exam review, documentation and billing in under one minute.

Akkaraju said the immediate focus of the company is commercializing the device, which is where most of the new funding will go. He intends to also build out its informatics platform that is being piloted across the country and to ramp up both production and its sales force.

The global point-of-care ultrasound market is expected to reach $3.1 billion by 2025 and will grow 5% annually over that period. In addition to physicians, Akkaraju is hearing from other hospital workers that they, too, want to use the ultrasound device for some of their daily tasks like finding the right vein for an IV.

Once the company’s device is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Exo will move forward with its plan to bring the handheld ultrasound device to market.

Zach Scheiner, principal with RA Capital Management, said he met the Exo team in 2020 and RA made its first investment in the Series B extension later that year.

He was “immediately compelled” by the technology and the opportunity to scale. Scheiner also got to know Akkaraju over the months as well as saw how Exo’s technology was improving.

“We are seeing an expanding opportunity in healthcare technology as it improves and costs go down,” he added. “The vision Sandeep has of democratizing the ultrasound is not a vision that was possible 15 or 20 years ago. We are seeing the market in its early stage, but we also recognize the potential. Every doctor should want one to see what they were not able to see before. As technology and biology improves, we are going to see this sector grow.”



Homebase raises $70M for a team management platform aimed at SMBs and their hourly workers

Small and medium enterprises have become a big opportunity in the world of B2B technology in the last several years, and today a startup that’s building tools aimed at helping them manage their teams of workers is announcing some funding that underscores the state of that market. Homebase, which provides a platform that helps SMBs manage various services related to their hourly workforces, has closed $70 million in funding, a Series C that values the company at between $500 million and $600 million, according to sources close to the startup.

The round has a number of big names in it that are as much a sign of how large VCs are valuing the SMB market right now, as it is of the strategic interest of the individuals who are also participating. GGV Capital is leading the round, with past backers Bain Capital Ventures, Baseline Ventures, Bedrock, Cowboy Ventures, and Khosla Ventures also participating. Individuals meanwhile include president of Focus Brands Kat Cole, Jocelyn Mangan (a board member at PapaJohns and Chownow and former COO of Snag), former CFO of payroll and benefits company Gusto Mike Dinsdale, Guild Education founder Rachel Carlson, star athletes Jrue and Lauren Holiday and alright alright alright actor and famous everyman and future political candidate Matthew McConaughey.

Homebase has raised $108 million to date.

The funding is coming on the heels of strong growth for Homebase (which is not to be confused with the UK/Irish home improvement chain of the same name, nor the YC-backed Vietnamese proptech startup).

The company now has some 100,000 small businesses, with 1 million employees in total, on its platform, which use Homebase to manage all manner of activities related to workers that are paid hourly, including (most recently) payroll, as well as shift scheduling, timeclocks and timesheets, hiring and onboarding, communication, and HR compliance.

John Waldmann, Homebase’s founder and CEO, said the funding will go towards both continuing to bring on more customers, as well as expand the list of services offered to them, which could include more features geared to front-line and service workers, as well as features for small businesses who might also have some “desk” workers who might still work hourly.

The common thread, Waldmann said, is not the exact nature of those jobs, but the fact that all of them, partly because of that hourly aspect, have been largely underserved by tech up to now.

“From the beginning, our mission was to help local businesses and their teams,” he said. Part of his inspiration he said came from people he knew: a childhood friend who owned an independent, expanding restaurant chain, and was going through the challenges of managing his teams there, carrying out most of his work on paper; and his sister who worked in hospitality, which didn’t look all that different from his restaurant friend’s challenges. She had to call in to see when she was working, writing her hours in a notebook to make sure she got paid accurately. 

“There are a lot of tech companies focused on making work easier for folks that sit at computers or desks, but are building tools for these others,” Waldmann said. “In the world of work, the experience just looks different with technology.”

Homebase currently is focused on the North American market — there are some 5 million small businesses in the U.S. alone, and so there is a lot of opportunity there. The huge pressure that many them have experienced in the last 18 months of Covid-19 living, leading some to shut down altogether, has also focused the mind on how to manage and carry out work much more efficiently and in a more organized way to ensure you know where your staff is, and that your staff knows what it should be doing at all times.

What will be interesting is to see what kinds of services Homebase adds to its platform over time: in a way it’s a sign of how the hourly wage workers are becoming a more sophisticated and salient aspect of the workforce, with their own unique demands. Payroll, which is now live in 27 states, also comes with pay advances, opening the door to other kinds of financial services for Homebase, for example.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy, with more than 60% of Americans employed by one of our 30 million small businesses. In a post-pandemic world, technology has never been more important to businesses of all sizes, including SMBs,” said Jeff Richards, managing aartner at GGV Capital and new Homebase board member. “The team at Homebase has worked tirelessly for years to bring technology to SMBs in a way that helps drive increased profitability, better hiring and growth. We’re thrilled to see Homebase playing such an important role in America’s small business recovery and thrilled to be part of the mission going forward.”

It’s interesting to see McConaughey involved in this round, given that he’s most recently made a turn towards politics, with plans to run for governor of Texas in 2022. “Hard working people who work in and run restaurants and local businesses are important to all of us,” he said. “They play an important role in giving our cities a sense of livelihood, identity, and community. This is why I’ve invested in Homebase. Homebase brings small business operations into the modern age and helps folks across the country not only continue to work harder, but work smarter.”


European Investment Fund puts $30M in Fabric Ventures’ new $120M digital assets fund

Despite their rich engineering talent, Blockchain entrepreneurs in the EU often struggle to find backing due to the dearth of large funds and investment expertise in the space. But a big move takes place at an EU level today, as the European Investment Fund makes a significant investment into a blockchain and digital assets venture fund.

Fabric Ventures, a Luxembourg-based VC billed as backing the “Open Economy” has closed $120 million for its 2021 fund, $30 million of which is coming from the European Investment Fund (EIF). Other backers of the new fund include 33 founders, partners, and executives from Ethereum, (Transfer)Wise, PayPal, Square, Google, PayU, Ledger, Raisin, Ebury, PPRO, NEAR, Felix Capital, LocalGlobe, Earlybird, Accelerator Ventures, Aztec Protocol, Raisin, Aragon, Orchid, MySQL, Verifone, OpenOcean, Claret Capital, and more. 

This makes it the first EIF-backed fund mandated to invest in digital assets and blockchain technology.

EIF Chief Executive Alain Godard said:  “We are very pleased to be partnering with Fabric Ventures to bring to the European market this fund specializing in Blockchain technologies… This partnership seeks to address the need [in Europe] and unlock financing opportunities for entrepreneurs active in the field of blockchain technologies – a field of particular strategic importance for the EU and our competitiveness on the global stage.”

The subtext here is that the EIF wants some exposure to these new, decentralized platforms, potentially as a bulwark against the centralized platforms coming out of the US and China.

And yes, while the price of Bitcoin has yo-yo’d, there is now $100 billion invested in the decentralized finance sector and $1.5 billion market in the NFT market. This technology is going nowhere.

Fabric hasn’t just come from nowhere, either. Various Fabric Ventures team members have been involved in Orchestream, the Honeycomb Project at Sun Microsystems, Tideway, RPX, Automic, Yoyo Wallet, and Orchid.

Richard Muirhead is Managing Partner, and is joined by partners Max Mersch and Anil Hansjee. Hansjee becomes General Partner after leaving PayPal’s Venture Fund, which he led for EMEA. The team has experience in token design, market infrastructure, and community governance.

The same team started the Firestartr fund in 2012, backing, Verse, Railsbank, Wagestream, Bitstamp, and others.

Muirhead said: “It is now well acknowledged that there is a need for a web that is user-owned and, consequently, more human-centric. There are astonishing people crafting this digital fabric for the benefit of all. We are excited to support those people with our latest fund.”

On a call with TechCrunch Muirhead added: “The thing to note here is that there’s a recognition at European Commission level, that this area is one of geopolitical significance for the EU bloc. On the one hand, you have the ‘wild west’ approach of North America, and, arguably, on the other is the surveillance state of the Chinese Communist Party.”

He said: “The European Commission, I think, believes that there is a third way for the individual, and to use this new wave of technology for the individual. Also for businesses. So we can have networks and marketplaces of individuals sharing their data for their own benefit, and businesses in supply chains sharing data for their own mutual benefits. So that’s the driving view.”